In some parts of the world, a hearty meal not accompanied by wine is considered incomplete. But this grape-based drink, with a complex culture and strong following, has been the subject of great debate.
Wine typically contains between 12.5 and 14.5% alcohol: double to triple the alcohol content of beer. It’s no secret that alcohol is bad for your health, especially in significant quantities.
However, recent research has shown that people who regularly drink wine in moderate quantities generally have a lower risk of a range of diseases as compared to those who don’t.
How true is it that wine is good for your health?
In this article, we will dispel some of the myths and explain some of the facts related to wine consumption and your health.
1. Wine Helps to Improve Heart Health
Multiple studies show that not just wine but any alcohol in moderate quantities helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, it seems that, with regard to heart health, there isn’t necessarily a significant benefit to drinking wine over other spirits.
2. Drinking Wine is Like Spending an Hour at the Gym
There was a popular news article circulating on social media that stated the above, but it did not specify what was measured to come to that conclusion. Unfortunately, this is a very misleading claim. Exercise does many things to your body, including raising your heart rate, toning muscle, and burning calories, that wine certainly does not.
The original study that this claim alluded to was referring to the component resveratrol, which is released during exercise, and also contained in wine. Resveratrol helps to modulate fat formation and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
It is resveratrol itself, not drinking wine per se, that can result in a similar effect to exercise on the body.
Note: Red wine has significantly more resveratrol than white wine.
3. Drinking Wine Can Help Fight Cancer
This claim also relates to the resveratrol content in wine. According to the National Cancer Institute,
Researchers conducting studies using purified proteins, human cells, and laboratory animals have found that certain substances in red wine, such as resveratrol, have anticancer properties. Grapes, raspberries, peanuts, and some other plants also contain resveratrol.
However, clinical trials in humans have not provided evidence that resveratrol is effective in preventing or treating cancer. Few epidemiologic studies have looked specifically at the association between red wine consumption and cancer risk in humans.
4. Moderate Wine Drinking Helps Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Studies indicate that drinking wine may prevent the onset of diabetes. Not only that, it may also help prevent complications in people who have already been diagnosed. A large-scale study examined the relationship between drinking wine and overall mortality in people with type 2 diabetes. It was found that drinking wine does moderately reduce the overall risk of mortality in patients with diabetes.
5. Drinking Wine Helps Prevent Cataracts
Drinking wine may support eye health. In one study, it was found that heavy drinkers had a significantly increased risk for cataracts, but moderate wine drinking seemed to help prevent the onset of cataracts.
6. You Can’t Get the Benefits of Wine Anywhere Else
All of the beneficial components found in wine can be found in other foods and drinks. Resveratrol, the famous antioxidant mentioned previously, can also be found in grapes, grape juice, blueberries, dark chocolate, and peanut butter, among others. If you do not drink wine already, consider getting your resveratrol through some of these foods instead.
What is Considered Moderate Drinking?
According to the National Council of Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD), moderate drinking is defined as up to two drinks per day for men (10 ounces of wine) and one drink per day for women (5 ounces of wine). Drinking any more than this on a regular basis is considered heavy drinking.
Remember that alcoholism is a pervasive problem, and not everyone’s body is the same. If you are at risk of alcoholism, do not risk trying wine solely because of its health benefits, as alcoholism is a much more significant risk.
On the other hand, if you simply enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, and it is acceptable in your culture, go for it! You may be able to reap a range of benefits.
Image Credit: Mandy Martini