Health Benefits of Red Wine
Research suggests that a glass of wine a day can actually keep the doctors away. While red wine consumption can be good for the body, it is very important to note that only moderate intake can lead to health benefits. Some of such benefits include:
- Increase in "good" cholesterol: a compound found in red wine, known as resveratrol, is found to increase high-density cholesterol in the body.
- Heart protection: along with good cholesterol come cardiovascular benefits. Since red wine is also an effective blood thinner, it wards off coronary heart disease by protecting the arteries and reducing blood clot formation.
- Cancer prevention: rich in antioxidants, red wine has been hailed for its anti-cancer properties. Antioxidants in red wine, specifically flavnoids and resveratrols, help neutralize free radicals and decreases inflammation within the body.
- Digestive system protection: research finds that moderate wine drinkers have lower occurrences of gallstones, stomach cancer and peptic ulcers than non-wine drinkers.
Red wine has also been found to potentially:
- Retain bone mass: while more research is needed, some studies suggested that moderate, daily intake of red wine can help women reduce their risk of osteoporosis in old age.
- Prevent type II diabetes: a study conducted in 2005 by the American Diabetes Association suggested that moderate intake of red wine can help in the prevention of type II diabetes. However, no strong correlation between insulin and red wine has been established.
- Protects the eyes: moderate wine drinkers have been linked to lower rates of macular degeneration, which is characterized by loss of vision with age.
While red wine does not have a significant amount of vitamins or minerals present, it is rich in phytochemicals that protects the body. Not only do these compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect, some can even be considered cancer-preventing antioxidants.
- Flavnoid: most well-known for their antioxidant activity, flavnoids helps with the elimination of mutagens and carcinogens responsible for cancer formation. Along with its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, this compound can also help regulate the digestive system and help prevent diarrhea.
- Resveratrol: this antioxidant is known to alter cholesterol levels by decreasing the "bad" cholesterol in the body. It can also protect blood vessel walls by preventing abnormal blood clotting and plaque formation in the arteries. As a result, it is an effective protector of the cardiovascular system by lowering the risks for coronary heart disease. Resveratol, found in the skin of grapes, has also been linked to reduction of tumors and cancer prevention. Red wine generally has a higher content of resveratol compared to white wine.
Risks of Too Much Red Wine
In terms of red wine consumption, moderation is the key. An excessive intake of red wine can actually reverse health benefits and become extremely detrimental to the body.
- Elevated "bad" cholesterol: just as with any type of alcohol, excessive intake of red wine can elevate blood cholesterol level; if left unchecked, high cholesterol can lead to diabetes and heart problems. Only consumption of red wine in moderation can lead to health benefits.
- Increased risk of cancer: alcohol, in nature, is an inflammatory substance that can lead to cancer, and red wine is no exception when consumed excessively. In fact, when abused, its anti-cancer properties are drastically outweighed by the detrimental properties.
- Migraines: red wine tends to be a trigger for individuals who are prone to migraine headaches. These migraines may be an indication that the person is allergic to a compound, known as tannin, in the wine, which gives red wine the dry and bitter taste.
- Weight gain: typically, five ounces of red wine is approximately 120 calories. Since red wine does not hold too much nutritional value and is low in vitamins and minerals, overindulgence of the drink can lead to significant weight gain. If left unchecked, it can lead to obesity, which in itself holds a myriad of health problems.
- Risky behavior: just as with any type of alcohol, red wine abuse can lead to risky behavior, such as bad decisions in food choices, social disruption, drunk driving and errors in judgment. Not only does it endanger the health, it also endangers people around the affected individual.
While there is no daily recommended intake of red wine, it is still important to consume with moderation to maximize the health returns. For adult men, the daily limitation is suggested at no more than two drinks per day, while for women, it is suggested at no more than one drink per day. One drink is equivalent to five ounces of red wine. Remember, moderation is key when it comes to red wine consumption!
However, for individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as liver or kidney problems, it is important to consult your physician before incorporating this drink as part of the diet. There may be alternative ways for you to reap the same health benefits of red wine without potentially endangering or worsening your current condition.