There is some evidence that drinking red wine may offer health benefits. If you are a non-drinker, health experts do not recommend that you start drinking alcohol. But if you enjoy alcohol in moderation, red wine is worth considering. Red wine contains powerful antioxidants, and many sources claim that drinking it has health benefits. However, drinking too much red wine may cause health problems.
Red wine has been part of social, religious, and cultural events for centuries. In the past, people have theorized that red wine benefits health, particularly alongside a balanced diet.
In recent years, science has indicated that there could be truth in these claims.
Although there are no official recommendations around these benefits, a 2018 study notes that drinking red wine in moderation has positive links with:
- cardiovascular disease
- certain types of cancer
- type 2 diabetes
Red wine is often said to be healthier than white wine. The reason is because of the grape skins. Before most white wine is fermented, the skins are separated from the mashed fruit and juice. With red wine, the skins remain throughout the fermentation process. Since many of the antioxidants in grapes are in the skin, red wine contains more antioxidants than white wine.
Antioxidants are important for maintaining good health because they protect your cells from damage. The antioxidants found in wine are polyphenols, which are compounds found in plants. You may also hear some of them called flavonoids. One flavonoid of interest to scientists is resveratrol, but red wine contains others.
One serving of red wine is about five ounces or approximately 150 ml. The nutritional value may vary slightly according to the variety. On average, one serving of red wine contains:
- Calories: 125 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
Red wine also contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including:
Benefits of red wine
Enjoying a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine can do much more than help you unwind after a long day and make dinner taste more delicious. To answer the age-old question of whether or not red wine is actually good for you, here’s what a dietitian and the latest research have to say about the known health benefits of drinking red wine, and how it can potentially impact your overall wellness.
- It improves heart health.
One of the most celebrated red wine benefits is its ability to potentially improve heart health. Consuming foods and beverages rich in polyphenols, such as red wine, has long been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Red wine has the power to protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart while also boosting HDL, or “good” cholesterol that helps your body flush out bad cholesterol. (Bad cholesterol can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.) “Drinking wine may help in decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol,” Stevens says. “[High LDL] may cause artery damage.”
- Cancer Risk Reduction
Resveratrol, one polyphenol in red wine, may reduce the risk of cancer, but this effect has appeared mostly in the lab and not in human studies. Some researchers say that red wine does not contain enough resveratrol to be effective. Still, those who drink red wine have shown a lower risk of colon cancer and prostate cancer. It’s possible that the lowered risk is due to other compounds in red wine.
- Reduced Risk of Dementia
One study showed that light to moderate drinking could reduce the risk of dementia, but no type of alcohol was superior to others in producing this effect. Some research has indicated small doses of alcohol may have a beneficial effect on the heart and circulatory system.
- Lower Risk of Diabetes
Some studies show that moderate alcohol intake could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. In one study, wine reduced the risk of diabetes for both men and women. Men who drank heavily, and even those who drink 1-3 days a week, had an increased risk of diabetes.
Negative Health Effects of Drinking Too Much Alcohol
While a moderate amount of red wine may provide health benefits, consuming too much alcohol can cause devastating health effects.
- Alcohol dependence: Drinking alcohol regularly may become out of control and lead to alcoholism.
- Liver cirrhosis: When more then 30 grams of alcohol (about 2–3 glasses of wine) are consumed each day, the risk of developing liver disease increases. End-stage liver disease, called cirrhosis, is life threatening.
- Increased risk of depression: Heavy drinkers are at a much higher risk of depression than moderate or non-drinkers.
The French Paradox
Red wine is often believed to be responsible for the “French paradox.”
This phrase refers to the observation that the French have low rates of heart disease, despite consuming a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Some experts believed that red wine was the dietary agent protecting the French population from the harmful effects of these nutrients.
However, new studies have shown that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat do not cause heart disease when consumed in reasonable amounts .
The true reason behind the good health of the French is probably the fact that they eat more whole foods and live overall healthier lifestyles.
NOTE: The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.