The next time you’re deciding whether to uncork a bottle, let science help make up your mind. Made by crushing and fermenting dark-colored grapes, red wine has been studied for many years and is thought to have a slew of health benefits (when consumed in moderation, of course). We’ve broken down some of the potential benefits of red wine, including the latest research and everything you should know before reaching for more vino.
Potential Health Benefits of Red Wine
- May protect your heart: Red wine may have several cardio-protective effects, and a recent review revealed that drinking red wine was linked with a lower risk of developing heart disease. But the American Heart Association points out a potential issue with the current research, stating that there is no established cause-and-effect link and several other factors, such as dietary habits, may play a role. For example, if you drink red wine every night then you may also be following a Mediterranean Diet which might be to thank for the heart healthy benefits.
- Can combat inflammation: Red wine is abundant in certain polyphenols including resveratrol, anthocyanins, catechins, and tannins (proanthocyanidins and ellagitannins). Resveratrol in particular is found not just in red wine, but also in foods such as grapes, peanuts, chocolate, and certain berries. Research suggests that the phenolic compounds in red wine exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only does the research suggest that red wine consumption can reduce insulin resistance, but it can also decrease oxidative stress.
- May sharpen your mind: The flavanols in wine may protect your body’s cells that support healthy blood vessels — a key physiological benefit that can improve blood flow to the brain and prevent harmful plaque from developing. Animal studies suggest that resveratrol in particular may prevent age-related memory decline.
- Can promote longevity: Blame it on the relaxation effects of imbibing. Long-term population studies have linked moderate alcohol drinking to a longer life. Research also suggests that it is possible to strengthen the effect of resveratrol with a balanced diet that emphasizes nutrient-dense foods packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals (similar to the Mediterranean diet). So pair your glass with a healthy meal!
- May improve mood: Studies has linked moderate alcohol intake to a better mood (and you thought that was just hearsay!). A 2014 study showed that people who had a glass of wine in an unpleasant environment experienced the same level of mood improvement as people who teetotaled in a more pleasant environment.
Potential Downsides of Drinking Red Wine
The American Heart Society warns that, although moderate consumption of red wine may have health benefits, excessive consumption can be detrimental to your health. Liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, stroke, cardiomyopathy, are just some of the issues that excessive drinking can contribute to. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research says that the less you drink, the lower your risk for cancer and advises to not drink at all if you want to take a proactive approach to cancer prevention. Not to mention that liquid calories can really add up when drinking any type of alcohol, which can lead to weight gain. Plus, alcohol in general lowers inhibitions and can lead to poor decision-making, which may influence your food choices.
The bottom line: Federal guidelines and the American Heart Association recommend that if you do choose to drink alcohol, then do so in moderation; stick to no more than one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. For reference, one drink is about 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits. Since red wine does contain a slew of antioxidants, it’s may potentially be a better choice than some other forms of alcohol on the market when consumed in moderation.
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