The Health Benefits of Oak Aged Wine

Wine has been a staple of the human food experience for literally millennia, but it’s only been recently that doctors are starting to fully understand all the health benefits of wine. Both red and white wines are full of potent antioxidants, chemical compounds, and even minerals that are good for your health, and oak aged wines are no exception, bearing benefits for the heart, lungs, blood pressure, and even skin tone.

Red wine has gotten a lot of press for its health benefits, particularly the high level of antioxidants and beneficial chemical compounds found in most red wines. The most talked about compound is reservatrol, which has been credited with reducing the effects of aging by preventing DNA damage in skin cells and helping the body rid itself of free radicals, essentially, the body’s trash. Reservatrol has also been shown to be effective in preventing post-menopausal bone density loss, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and keeping hormones regulated.

Recently, reservatrol has also been linked to several studies on cancer treatment, and has been shown to have serious cancer cell fighting abilities. Several studies show that reservatrol is not only able to kill some types of cancer cells, but is also able to somewhat prevent the spread of cancer to the bones. Of course, red wine has other benefits as well. In combination with reservatrol, other antioxidants called flavonoids and polyphenols can prevent stickiness in platelets, and also act as blood thinners, which can reduce the risk of clots, strokes and heart attacks.

Like red wines, oak aged white wines also have a number of health benefits. Although not as packed full of antioxidants as red wines, white wines still have beneficial levels of antioxidants, and have been shown to be in some cases more effective than red wines with a higher antioxidant level. This occurs because the antioxidants in white wines are smaller, and therefore easier to absorb, which makes the antioxidants found in white wine sometimes more effective at reducing free radicals than red wine, even though the amount is actually smaller. White wines are particularly good at improving lung function, and can help significantly reduce artery blockages with a compound of tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, which work like the reservatrol found in red wine.

Finally, both red and white wines have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol levels, which, when in combination with the artery cleaning abilities of white wine, and the clot prevention of red wine, can make a serious difference in the health of those with cardiovascular problems. Additionally, both red and white are considered equally potent when it comes to their vitamin and mineral content, as well as their ability to improve a person’s blood pressure.

So where does the oak come in? Oak aged wines, whether red or white, are higher in antioxidants than others, and the oak itself brings a number of benefits. Oak, particularly the old oak used for wine barrels, has high levels of ellagic acid, which is a powerful antioxidant. As wine ages, it soaks into the oak, and the oak in turn leaches ellagic acid into the wine as the wood changes with temperature fluctuations and time. Ellagic acid is known to cause cell death in cancers, and can play a powerful role in preventing some of the most common types of cancers, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and bladder cancer, as well as the less common leukemia. Additionally, ellagic acid is antimicrobial, meaning it helps wounds heal faster. It also serves to strengthen the immune system. While some ellagic acids are found in red and white wines even if they are not oak aged, the level is significantly higher in oak aged wines.

Of course, all wine should be enjoyed in moderation — hangovers and the risk of liver cirrhosis certainly cancel out any health benefits. However, when used judiciously, a glass or two of oak aged wine a day can make a huge difference in your health, from keeping your heart running smoothly to preventing cancer to keeping you looking as young as you feel. There’s no doubt about it: oak aged wine is good for your health. And that’s something to drink to. A votre sante!