Did you know that red wine could be healthy? There is abundant evidence that moderate intake of red wine may have had beneficial effects. It may promote heart health and even fight some forms of cancer.
What Is Red Wine?
This is the type of wine made from black grape varieties. But the color of the wine may differ – ranging from intense violet (young wines) to brick red (mature wines) and brown (older wines).
How the wine is made is an interesting story – right from being handpicked to bottled. We will discuss the process in detail in a later section in this post. But, simply put, red wine is made by crushing and fermenting dark-colored grapes (the whole fruit).
The alcohol content of red wine usually ranges from 12% to 15%.
What Ingredients In Red Wine Make It So Beneficial?
Red wine is made from grapes, and grapes are rich in several antioxidants. Some of these include catechins, resveratrol, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins.
Resveratrol, the antioxidant coming from grape skins, has anti-aging and heart-healthy benefits.
Flavonoids, especially the anthocyanins, that render the wine a rich red color, can have beneficial effects on overall health. And proanthocyanidins can reduce heart disease risk. These antioxidants also help combat free radical damage. Wines contain sugar too – which is something you need to consider.
- Dry wine – 4 grams of sugar per liter
- Medium dry wine – 4 to 12 grams of sugar per liter (0.5 to 2 grams per glass)
- Sweet wine – 45 grams of sugar per liter (6 grams per glass)
Red wine could be available in all these types, and if possible, try to go for the dry variety.
And coming to the big question –
Is Red Wine Good For You?
That’s the entire deal, isn’t it? Oh yes, overconsumption is hazardous. It can wreck your life and make you wonder why you even had that first sip.
But red wine, in moderation, has benefits.
Benefits. Hard to associate the term with wine, isn’t it? Well – not anymore. Consuming red wine (in moderation, remember) can cut the risk of dementia. It can even prevent liver disease and offer protection against cancer (prostate cancer).
There are so many other benefits. Really.
And we will look at all of them. But before that, if you are against wine consumption (for any reason) but still want the benefits this wine offers, you have good news.
A red wine pill. Popping a pill can help you receive the benefits of resveratrol without having to uncork a single bottle. Taking a red wine pill can also help you avoid all the empty calories and sugars that come with red wine.
Before we head to the benefits, we want to make one thing very clear.
Organic wine is another type of wine that has a subtle difference. This wine is produced from grapes that are grown according to the principles of organic farming – which prohibits the use of chemicals and other artificial fertilizers.
One glass of red wine has about 125 calories. It contains about 3.8 grams of carbohydrates and no cholesterol.
But hey, did you know there are different types of red wine?
What Are The Benefits Of Red Wine For Health?
Check out some of the best health benefits of red wine.
1. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
In addition to raising good cholesterol levels, the resveratrol in red wine can also lower the levels of bad cholesterol. But according to the National Cholesterol Education Program, lowering the consumption of trans fat and getting exercise every day could be better ways of keeping your cholesterol levels in check.
Studies say that a daily glass of red wine for four weeks can elevate good cholesterol levels by 16 percent, and reduce the amount of fibrinogen (a clotting compound) by 15 percent It is particularly the alcohol in the wine that provides these benefits, which may not be achieved by just any red grape extract. Other studies say that though red wine is protective, other forms of alcohol may not have similar beneficial effects.
Red wine can help if you have dark meat. It prevents the release of harmful compounds in dark meat that could raise cholesterol levels. And as per a Brazilian study, red wine might help prevent plaque formation, which is a direct consequence of increased cholesterol.
2. Prevents Obesity
Research says that resveratrol in red wine can convert the bad fat into calorie-burning brown fat. And diets containing the antioxidant can help combat obesity. Resveratrol enhances the oxidation of dietary fats and prevents the body from getting overloaded. It converts white fat into brown fat (also called beige fat) that burns off as heat – thereby preventing obesity and metabolic dysfunction.
But it is important to note that certain wine brands, especially merlot and cabernet sauvignon, contain a fraction of resveratrol that is found in grapes. This is because most of the beneficial polyphenols are insoluble and filtered out during the winemaking process. Though this may not be the case with all brands of red wine, it is important to inquire into the winemaking process from the seller. A little extra knowledge can help.
Red wine consumption can also reduce the damaging effects of smoking. It can reduce inflammation and the aging process in cells (triggered by an enzyme called telomerase), which usually accelerates post smoking.
As per another Spanish study, the polyphenols in red wine modulate the gut microbiota and help prevent metabolic diseases in obese individuals. These polyphenols can also prevent cardiac ailments associated with obesity.
According to a report by Purdue University, resveratrol gets converted into piceatannol post-consumption. Piceatannol alters the way adipogenesis (the process where fat cells in the early stage become mature) happens – which means, the compound can delay or even inhibit adipogenesis. Piceatannol is also found in the skins of red grapes and their seeds, blueberries, and passion fruit.
3. Promotes Longevity
Research done by French scientists reveals that resveratrol in red wine can increase lifespan by as much as 60% (55). The antioxidant could also provide higher energy levels. Though the tests have been conducted on worms, researchers believe similar effects can be seen in humans. Resveratrol might activate an evolutionary stress response in human cells that might enhance longevity.
The antioxidant is found in some berries, grapes, peanuts, and cacao beans – it is produced in these plants as a response to stress. It is a naturally occurring phytoalexin (also called defender of the plant) that is produced in response to mechanical trauma (like an injury), ultraviolet light, or infection by fungi – it provides a means for defense. Research suggests that it can work similarly in humans as well.
An Italian study says that wine can increase lifespan by inducing longevity genes. And according to the Stanford Center on Longevity, resveratrol in red wine can protect our neurons from the undesirable effects of aging. However, the amount of resveratrol that you can get from red wine is quite small compared to that in a pill. If you should get a comparable amount of resveratrol from wine alone, you might have to drink 600 bottles of red wine per day. And that’s certainly not a good idea, right?
4. Reduces Stress
And yes, it is resveratrol again. This compound in red wine stimulates a particular protein that activates certain genes that repair DNA, suppresses the tumor genes, and promotes longevity genes. Basically, what we mean to say is a glass of red wine a day can help you stress less. The best way to achieve this is to have a glass of wine along with your dinner, and not right before sleep – this can have a calming effect on you without disturbing your sleep cycle.
But the stress-relieving effects of red wine are not applicable to pregnant women. Women who are expecting do undergo a lot of stress – and drinking red wine is not the best option to combat it. Alcohol, in any form, can be detrimental to the baby.
Comfort foods like cookies sure can relieve stress, but the downside is you crash. Fruits and vegetables, and red wine, of course, relieve stress and also offer antioxidants that can be beneficial.
5. Improves Bone Strength
One study published in the Oxford Academic Journal has revealed that resveratrol in red wine can improve spinal bone density in men suffering from metabolic syndrome. The study suggests that resveratrol positively affects the bone by stimulating formation or mineralization. The compound also has anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent bone loss. It stimulates bone-forming cells in the body.
One or two glasses of wine can work as well as drugs to protect older women from thinning bones. Moderate alcohol intake post menopause was found to maintain bone strength in the later years. More interestingly, the imbalance between the dissolving of an old bone and the production of a new bone is what causes osteoporosis in older women – and alcohol, when consumed in moderation, remedies this imbalance. Nevertheless, the National Osteoporosis Society warns against drinking more alcohol to protect the bones. Excessive alcohol can increase the risk of fractures.
6. Reduces The Risk Of Cataracts
As per studies, resveratrol and other antioxidants in red wine can help prevent blindness. In another study by the Washington University School of Medicine, resveratrol in the wine prevents the out-of-control growth of the blood vessels in the eye. It also prevents diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.
Resveratrol might also reduce the risk of cataracts by increasing the levels of glutathione in your system.
As per other studies, grapes (and wine coming from them), green or red or black, can act as a magic bullet in the fight against cataracts.
7. Promotes Liver Health
Modest wine consumption was not only found to be safe for the liver, but it could even cut the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. On the contrary, intake of beer or liquor could increase the risk of the disease by four times.
8. Boosts Brain Health
According to research conducted by the Yale School of Medicine, though wine molecules don’t have taste or flavor, they stimulate the brain to create that sensation. This makes your gray matter work harder, boosting brain health. In fact, the taste may never be in the wine, but it is created by the brain of the wine taster.
Moderate regular doses of red wine were also found to have an antioxidant effect in the hippocampus of diabetics. Resveratrol has similar effects on both the hippocampus and the frontal cortex.
But otherwise, excessive alcohol consumption can deteriorate your thinking skills and cause brain damage.
However, we again have a contradiction. Some research does not support the common belief that a glass of red wine a day can prevent brain damage. Hence, if you have any kind of brain ailment and also happen to consume wine, stop right away and consult your doctor. Don’t take a chance.
9. Fights Depression
As per research, 2 to 7 glasses of red wine a week might reduce depression. The same research also suggests that exceeding the limit, conversely, can cause depression.
Getting to the percentages (for clarity), consuming 5 to 15 grams of alcohol per day is considered fine. And a small glass of wine contains about 9 grams of alcohol. Now you get the idea, don’t you?
10. Improves Sleep
The grapes red wine is made of are rich in melatonin, the very same compound that induces sleep in humans. This hormone is produced in our brain by the pineal gland. And almost grapes used to produce red wine contain more melatonin than our blood. According to scientists, the melatonin content in red wine could be high enough to help us sleep.
The melatonin in red wine can regulate the circadian rhythm, thereby aiding sleep.
In yet another study, people who drank red wine reported better sleep quality than those who drank plain water.
11. Enhances Lung Function
As per a report, resveratrol in red wine can mitigate the inflammatory process that occurs in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to researchers from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, smoking is the primary cause of COPD – and the disease is irreversible. One Greek study found that two glasses of red wine assuaged the damage to the arteries caused by one cigarette.
According to an Ohio study, resveratrol can aid in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. Although more research is required to scale the study, this does appear promising to human health.
12. Prevents Tooth Decay
Studies have revealed that red wine can protect your teeth by preventing cavities. The wine can help remove bacteria from the teeth, which otherwise produce acid that damages the teeth over time.
But this could be a trade-off between the pros and cons – a lowered risk of cavities vs. stained teeth and the extra calories from alcohol. In moderation, however, you can enjoy the benefits.
The bacteria red wine removes is streptococcus, which is routinely found in dental cavities. The polyphenols in red wine can help remove these bacteria.
The studies have contraindications, though. Firstly, the research was conducted in a laboratory, and certain critics claim that the conditions inside the laboratory are way different from those inside the mouth. It also could be possible that the alcohol, acids, and sugars in red wine could nullify the benefits of its polyphenols.
Hence, two things to remember – moderate consumption is what we are talking about here. And even before that, consult your dentist and take his/her advice.
13. Boosts Levels Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We don’t have to tell you how important omega-3 fatty acids are. According to a report by the Catholic University, moderate red wine intake can boost the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells. The study also suggests that red wine does better than other alcoholic drinks. Researchers guess this effect could be attributed to the wine polyphenols.
This could also explain why red wine consumption has been linked to heart health – as omega-3s are known to promote heart health.
14. Strengthens The Immune System
Research has found that a daily glass of wine (red wine, in specific) can boost the immune system and help fight infections. And a glass or two of red wine can also help you beat those annoying colds.
As per the American Journal of Epidemiology, this protection can be stronger with red wine than with the white variant. The study states that red wine can develop a kind of immunity that can ward off 200 viruses that trigger the cold.
According to a study by the University of Florida, red wine doesn’t suppress the immune response – which basically means the wine won’t harm your immune system (when taken in moderation, of course). You can get the benefits of red wine without any harm to your immune function.
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