If you need a reason to raise a glass of wine, here are seven smart and healthy ones.
According to Health Grades (www.healthgrades.com), an online database that provides information about physicians, hospitals and health care providers, researchers around the world are helping us learn more about the potent players in red wine that contribute to health benefits. Here are their findings.
1. Helps Fight Heart Disease
Studies show resveratrol may be the reason for red wine’s health benefits. Resveratrol is likely the magic ingredient that helps protect the lining of your blood vessels and prevents blood clots. This powerful antioxidant comes from the crushed red grape skins that give red wine its color. But it does more than add flavor to your glass. According to the American Heart Association, resveratrol can keep your arteries healthy and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 to 40%. That’s a benefit worth toasting.
2. Corrects Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol is a challenge for many people and a big contributor to cardiovascular problems. Once again, research indicates that resveratrol comes to the rescue to raise your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or good cholesterol) and lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol). If you’re trying to keep your cholesterol in check, you might want to pour yourself a glass (after you get your daily exercise!).
3. Lowers Blood Sugar
There’s good news for type 2 diabetics: moderate consumption of red wine can lower blood sugar. A two-year study debunks the myth that alcohol is not safe for people with diabetes. The newer research showed that diabetics should drink wine with a meal to reap the benefits. The study also noted that people with genetically slow metabolism get the greatest perks from popping a cork at dinnertime.
4. Maintains Memory Function
Though over-consuming alcohol may lead to a night you don’t remember, drinking red wine in moderation could slow memory loss and potentially help Alzheimer’s patients. Though more research is in the works, the results of a study done at Texas A&M gives hope that red wine consumption and resveratrol intake may be useful in helping adults improve mood and memory as they age.
5. Fights Certain Cancers
There is some debate over the health benefits of red wine in relation to cancer, but researchers seem to agree that the antioxidants in red grapes do have cancer-fighting properties that fend off the free radicals that damage cells. To drink or not to drink may depend on the type of cancer you have or are at risk for. The most success has been with colon cancer and the biggest warnings are for women at risk for breast cancer. If you have concerns about wine drinking and cancer, check with your doctor before you tip your cup.
6. Controls Fat Cells
A study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry shows alcohol consumption could help with weight loss. Researchers at Oregon State studied mice that were fed a high-fat diet and then given extracts from Pinot noir grapes. Results showed the mice that dined and wined had lower blood sugar and stored less liver fat thanks to ellagic acids in the grapes.
7. Protects Your Teeth
Research published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says the risk of red wine stains on your teeth might be worth it. It turns out red wine and grape seed extracts can slow the growth of bacteria in your mouth, which means fewer cavities. Just be sure to brush after every glass.
8. Sipping Safely
Moderation is the key to drinking to your health. While red wine and resveratrol health benefits are real, doctors don’t recommend you start drinking wine if you don’t regularly consume alcohol already. Typically, 5 ounces of wine is considered one drink. So, if you currently have 1 to 2 glasses of wine a day, you can safely sip and enjoy a health boost during happy hour.
The Red Wine Diet: Drink Wine Every Day, and Live a Long and Healthy Life, by Roger Corder
A 5 oz Glass: The Health Secrets of Red Wine for Women, by Henry M. Hess MD PhD
Drink to your Health: A daily glass of wine or bottle of beer may protect against stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and cognitive decline. Neurology Now (www.journals.lww.com)