The Benefits of Red Wine Defined: Is That Vino Really Good For You?

glass of red wine photo

The benefits of red wine have long been one of its best selling points. It’s one of my favorite healthy vices. That is–red wine in moderation can bring great joy (like chocolate, but better) at same time, when overdone it’s a vice beyond belief.

Antioxidants, particularly a polyphenol called resveratrol, may help to prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high density lipoproteins and protecting against artery damage.

Light to moderate wine drinking is associated with a longer life. Additionally, a Mediterranean diet, consisting of 1-2 glasses of wine per day for women and 2-3 for men, is also linked to a longer, healthier life.

However, research on resveratrol has been done mostly on animals, not humans. For example, it showed in both mice and pigs that the antioxidant protects against obesity and diabetes. It also showed that resveratrol reduced inflammation and blood clotting. Researchers aren’t sure if the benefits of red wine are long term, or whether they only occur directly after consuming wine. The antioxidant can also be found in grapes, peanuts, blueberries and cranberries.

Drink in moderation or don’t drink at all. As a moderate drinker, consider that a true glass of wine is 5 ounces and women cannot metabolize alcohol like men, so they can’t drink as much. Doctors say that you shouldn’t start drinking for the health benefits and they stress that drinking too much can cause a host of health problems including increased blood pressure and triglycerides, liver damage, obesity and certain types of cancer.

In order to enjoy the health benefits of red wine you have to find the sweet spot on a U-shaped curve–neither too much or too little. This U-shaped curve occurs often in health. The same is true of exercise and food consumption. You need to exercise, but too much exercise puts undue impact on your body. You also need to eat, if you don’t you’ll starve, but at the same time, too much food makes you fat. Bottom line–cheers moderately and you’ll enjoy the health benefits of a good glass of red wine.

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Image: Dave Dugdale