With the Holiday season upon us, we are bombarded with work functions, parties, and dinners to attend. Chances are, your shindig will have alcohol served. What to do? The answer, Red Wine.

Drinking red wine in moderation—a glass or two per day—is believed to have many health related benefits. Countless studies over the years have found that drinking red wine may lower your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and perhaps even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Find it hard to believe? Just look at the French for example.

The French Paradox

Most of the people living in France consume a high-fat diet and yet still have a relatively low occurrence of heart related illnesses. For awhile this puzzled many experts and became known as the “French Paradox.” After a deeper analysis, many experts came to believe that the red wine many French people consume with their meals may be the key to their healthy hearts. The antioxidants, especially reservatrol, found in red wine are believed to give red wine its powerful health benefits.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help detoxify the body by ridding it of harmful molecules known as “free radicals.” Free radicals can cause a chain reaction of cellular damage within the body affecting signs of aging and increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other harmful illnesses. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E act as neutralizers against free radicals, and red wine has an abundance of them.

Reservatrol

Reservatrol is believed to be the key ingredient found in red wine that gives it so much of its heart healthy benefits. Studies have shown that reservatrol has helped lower bad cholesterol (LDL), prevent blood clot formation, and minimize the risk of certain cancers.

Reservatrol is a powerful antioxidant found in the seeds and skins of grapes. The reservatrol in grapes acts as a natural defense against the invasion of bacteria and fungi. Since bacteria and fungi are a much higher threat to grapes in the more humid climates, grapes in these regions naturally have higher levels of reservatrol. In addition, grapes with thinner skins—grapes used to make Pinot Noirs—have even higher levels of reservatrol since their need for protection is heightened. In comparison to white wines, the skins and seeds of the grapes used for red wine are fermented longer, allowing for a greater retention of reservatrol. Thus red wines from more humid regions, especially Pinot Noirs, are found to be the most heart healthy, although the key is still moderation.

What is considered moderation?

Moderation is defined as one glass per day for women and one to two glasses per day for men. One glass is defined as 5 ounces of wine.

Experts have found that these parameters of moderation have generally helped promote the health benefits of red wine, without many of the harmful effects associated with over indulgence. An over indulgence of any kind of alcohol can lead to:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Liver damage
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • And even obesity

So if you choose to drink red wine in an effort to promote good health, don’t overdo it. You can still get some of the same health related benefits from eating grapes, peanuts, blueberries, and cranberries since they too contain antioxidants and reservatrol, but in varying amounts.

References

Red wine and reservatrol: Good for your heart?, Mayo Clinic Staff:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089

Article by Lauren Lopez