Should we wine while we dine? According to recent research, a glass (or two) a day may be more than just fine! Past studies have shown that resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red grape skins and therefore in red wine, helps to promote: anti-aging effects, strong bones, healthier blood vessels in the elderly, cleaner arteries to prevent stroke, lower heart attack risk in men with high blood pressure, killing of cancer cells, decreased ovarian cancer risk, and reduced ulcer-causing bacteria. Even the antioxidants in white wine have been linked to health improvements, including better lung function.
A study conducted in Spain and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that both red and white wine may lower women’s risk of heart disease. (Prior studies had only observed this effect in men.) After 4 weeks of adding two glasses of wine per day to a heart-healthy diet, the female participants had higher levels of the good (HDL) cholesterol and lower levels of an inflammatory substance (C-reactive protein) in their blood. The red wine showed a more substantial effect than white wine, likely due to its higher level of resveratrol. (Red wine has a higher amount because it is the grape skin that gives the wine its red color—just a Wines 101 tidbit.)
This all great news. . . . So bottoms up right? Not so fast. Wine’s benefits result from moderate consumption, meaning ONLY one to two glasses per day. But if we don’t get a chance to have some wine during the week, we can save it all up for the weekend, right? Absolutely not. Just one bout of binge drinking can do a lot of damage. My clinical nutrition professor in college made sure we’d never forget this fact—during our last class before homecoming weekend, she showed us the up close and personal detailed photos of a fatty liver after one episode of binge-drinking. Allow me to spare you the details by just saying it was not pretty. With that in mind, my advice is that if you already drink in moderation, you can continue to enjoy sipping your favorite vintage. For the above health benefits, consider choosing wine over beer or hard alcohol, and red wine over white wine.
If you do not drink, neither I nor doctors or other health professionals would recommend that you start. Those of you who dislike the taste or can’t tolerate the alcohol need not fret—these benefits may soon be available in an effective pill form! Pharmaceutical companies have been observing the effects of resveratrol-like compounds, which are actually 1,000 times stronger than resveratrol, in animal studies. Since these studies have shown such promise in treating type 2 diabetes and other age-related diseases, researchers highly expect success in future human studies as well. In the meantime, I will rhyme, and remind you that it is fine, to enjoy a bit of wine while you dine!