Red Wine vs White Wine: Which Is Healthier?

Red Wine vs White Wine: Which Is Healthier?

Whether you prefer white or red wine is generally a matter of taste. But if you want the healthiest pick, which should you choose?

Red wine has drawn lots of attention for its research-backed potential to lower the risk of heart disease and lengthen your lifespan.

Does white wine have the same benefits?

This article will review what you need to know about red and white wine — how they’re made, what to watch out for, and which is healthier.

What Is Wine?

Wine is made from fermented grape juice. Grapes are picked, crushed, and placed in buckets or vats to ferment. The process of fermentation turns the natural sugars in the grape juice into alcohol. Fermentation can occur naturally, but sometimes winemakers add yeast to help control the process.

The crushed grapes are put through a press, which removes the skins and other sediments. Whether this step is done before or after fermentation, along with grape color, determines whether the wine becomes red or white.

To make white wine, grapes are pressed before fermentation. Red wine is usually pressed after fermentation.

After this step, the wine is aged in stainless steel or oak barrels until it’s ready to be bottled.

SUMMARY: Wine is made from fermented grape juice. The grapes are picked, crushed, and then allowed to ferment in buckets or vats.

What’s the Difference Between Red and White Wine?

The main difference between white and red wine has to do with the color of the grapes used. It also has to do with whether the grape juice is fermented with or without the grape skin.

To make white wine, grapes are pressed and skins, seeds, and stems are removed before fermentation.

However, to make red wine, the crushed red grapes are transferred to vats directly and they ferment with the skin, seeds, and stems. The grape skins lend the wine its pigment, as well as many of the distinctive health compounds found in red wine.

As a result of steeping with the grape skins, red wine is particularly rich in plant compounds that are present in those skins, such as tannins and resveratrol.

White wine also has some of these healthy plant compounds, but generally in much lower amounts.

Many different grape varietals are used to produce wine, including Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

While red varietals are used to make red wine, white wine can actually be made from red or white grapes. For instance, traditional French champagne is made with the red Pinot Noir grape.

Many countries produce wine. Some of the main wine-growing regions are in France, Italy, Spain, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and California in the US.

While most regions grow several types of grape varietals, some places are particularly known for one or two, such as Napa Valley Chardonnay, Spanish Tempranillo, and South African Chenin Blanc.

SUMMARY: Red wine grapes are fermented with the skin on, which gives the wine its color and provides beneficial plant compounds. Grapes for white wine, on the other hand, have their skins removed.

Nutrition Comparison

Red and white wine have very similar nutrition profiles.

However, looking at the nutrient content per 5-ounce (148-ml) glass, you can see that there are some differences (3, 4):

Red wine White wine
Calories 125 121
Carbs 4 grams 4 grams
Sugars 1 gram 1 gram
Manganese 10% of the RDI 9% of the RDI
Potassium 5% of the RDI 3% of the RDI
Magnesium 4% of the RDI 4% of the RDI
Vitamin B6 4% of the RDI 4% of the RDI
Iron 4% of the RDI 2% of the RDI
Riboflavin 3% of the RDI 1% of the RDI
Phosphorus 3% of the RDI 3% of the RDI
Niacin 2% of the RDI 1% of the RDI
Calcium, vitamin K, zinc 1% of the RDI 1% of the RDI

Overall, red wine has a slight edge over white because it has higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, white wine contains fewer calories.

SUMMARY: In terms of nutrients, red and white wine are neck and neck. However, red wine has slightly higher levels of some vitamins and minerals.

The Benefits of Red Wine

Because it ferments with grape skins and seeds, red wine is very high in plant compounds that deliver a variety of health benefits.

It May Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Red wine is the supposed secret behind the French paradox.

That’s the notion that there’s relatively little heart disease in France, despite a tradition of eating a diet high in saturated fat.

Research has found that drinking red wine may have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. In fact, it’s been linked to a 30% lower risk of dying from heart disease

In part, that may be because wine contains compounds that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These help reduce heart disease risk.

It May Help Increase “Good” HDL Cholesterol

Red wine has also been shown to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which is linked to lower rates of heart disease

A small study found that adults who were told to drink 1–2 glasses of red wine daily for four weeks saw an 11–16% increase in their HDL levels, compared to those who simply drank water or water, and a grape extract.

It May Slow Down Brain Decline

Several studies have suggested that drinking red wine can help slow down an age-related mental decline.

This may partly be due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of resveratrol, an antioxidant-like compound in red wine.

Resveratrol seems to prevent protein particles called beta-amyloid from forming. These beta-amyloids play a key role in forming the plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other Benefits of Resveratrol

Resveratrol has been much studied for its potential benefits as a supplement. In these concentrated doses, resveratrol seems to have the following benefits:

  • Eases joint pain: It prevents cartilage from getting damaged.
  • Helps with diabetes: It increases insulin sensitivity. In animal studies, resveratrol has prevented complications from diabetes.
  • Extends the lifespan of various organisms: It does this by activating genes that ward off the diseases of aging.
  • May help with cancer: Resveratrol’s potential to prevent and treat cancer has been widely studied, but results have been mixed.

SUMMARY: Red wine has been linked with a variety of health benefits. It’s thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, raise HDL cholesterol, and slow age-related mental decline.

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