(Photo courtesy of A Stone’s Throw Winery)
Throughout the years, popping the cork has transformed regular gatherings into celebrations promoting love and well wishes for everyone sitting around the table. And now studies show red wine also has a place in promoting good health.
A study published by the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research found that red wine contains active antioxidants like resveratrol, proanthocyanidin, and quercetin, which fight free radicals and decrease the rate of cell oxidation that contributes to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. “From these findings, it has been concluded that red wine as a diet supplement might be beneficial for cardiovascular risk factors,” says the National Institutes of Health.
But how is red wine good for you, and how much do we need to drink to reap the health benefits?
Why is red wine good for you?
As indicated in the NIH study, the magic in a glass of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot consists of antioxidants found in the grapes. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and prevents blood clots,” say the experts at the Mayo Clinic. Tannins also inhibit blood clotting, which improves circulation and opens up essential blood vessels. “Additionally, it has been linked to increased appetite, which can support increased food consumption among vulnerable populations like older adults,” says Emily DeLacey, MS, RD.
How much wine offers health benefits?
The key to maximum health benefits is moderation. “Drinking one to two glasses of red wine each day may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke,” says health writer Adda Bjarnadottir, MS. “However, high amounts may increase the risk.” Drinking an excess of red wine contributes to high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, allergic reactions, certain types of cancer, sleep deficiency, brain damage, and an inflamed pancreas. Not to mention the increased risk of injury, violence, and even death. “Additionally, high intake can result in increased triglycerides and an irregular heartbeat,” says DeLacey.
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But how can those who opt for, say, a diet soda over a glass of vino with dinner benefit from the positive effects of antioxidants like resveratrol? Experts agree that people who don’t already drink red wine shouldn’t start since red grapes don’t need to be fermented to produce health benefits. “Antioxidants are the body’s defense against molecular breakdown, which leads to chronic disease,” said Jenny Vote, RN, director of nursing services at Fort Dodge Health and Rehabilitation. “Although there are supplements available, eating a diet rich in antioxidants such as fruits (especially berries), nuts, beans, green tea, cinnamon, and tomatoes, among other foods, promote heart health, boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of some forms of cancer.” Along with red grapes, other sources of resveratrol include blueberries, dark chocolate, and even peanut butter.
But most experts agree that the wine and the atmosphere is what makes a healthy combination. “If you’re going to drink red wine, this study is a good reminder to do it the old-fashioned way,” says Dr. James O’Keefe, chief of preventive cardiology at St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute. “Drink it with a Mediterranean meal high in vegetables and fish and lower in meat, with fruit for dessert and using olive oil. Doing it in a social, relaxed setting also goes a long way to improving health and happiness.”
This article was originally published by Orange County Register and republished here with permission.