For a great deal of time, scientific studies have suggested that red wine holds a multitude of health benefits–most notably for the heart. When the news broke, wine lovers the world over rejoiced. Although it was not as if red wine would become breakfast fare, the assertion of health benefits added a certain sense of feel-good to enjoying a glass or two a day. But just how true are these benefits? Health fads have come and gone, and many wonder if red wine’s heart friendly nature may go the way of the Atkin’s diet and oxygen bars. This article will attempt to shed some light on the issue, and help you decide if red wine is anything beyond an enjoyable part of your diet.
Many doctors do agree that something in red wine has positive effects on the heart. This heart-friendly component is generally identified as something called resveratrol, a variety of natural phenol that is present in red wine via the skins of grapes. It has been asserted that resveratrol helps to prevent blood clots and damage to blood vessels, and may even lower cholesterol, among other cardiovascular benefits. Studies have additionally been conducted on animals that suggest resveratrol may hold a preventative effect on diabetes.
Some have additionally mentioned “the French effect” as pointing to red wine’s heart-friendly nature. The typical French diet is very high in fat, although heart disease is relatively low. Red wine has been attributed as a possible factor in this unlikely combination. However, there are much larger lifestyle difference in French and American culture outside of diet, and is unlikely that red wine is the key. Regardless of diet, one of the most important rules in garnering any health benefits from red wine is to consume it with food in order to minimize the negative effects of alcohol on an empty stomach. It has generally been found that alcohol in moderation, when paired with a good diet and exercise, can help your body boost the production of good cholesterol.
With this in mind, it may seem that as long as the diet is kept in check, that there is no question as to red wine’s beneficial nature. However, this is not necessarily the case. For one, much of the scientific data relating to red wine’s cardiovascular benefits comes from tests conducted on animals, not humans. Additionally, while resveratrol has a relatively high presence in grape skins, its presence in wine after fermentation is somewhat low. In order to best absorb the resveratrol that is present, it is recommended to sip wine slowly.
There are additionally other issues linked with the consumption of red wine, which may dissuade some from using it to supplement their diet. A UK study found that the consumption of any alcohol, even in moderation, may increase the risk of oral and throat cancers in women. Wine is additionally a debatable choice for those with family histories of alcoholism, as they may be easily susceptible to the disease. However, there are wines available with significantly lower alcohol levels that still contain resveratrol, and thus produce the same benefits.
Overall, the key to garnering any health benefits from wine is moderation. Although it is difficult to say that red wine has ineffable heart benefits, nothing directly contradicts this. At the least, you may enjoy a glass or two with dinner, and know that you are doing yourself no harm. It may even be helping!