Is red wine good for health in moderation?
- Evidence of wine production dates back to the Stone Age--between 6,000 BC and 4,000 BC--by the Shulaveri-Shomu people of West Asia.
- A recent YouGov poll revealed that among wine-drinking Americans, 69% enjoy red wine, with Merlot being the wine of choice.
- The Sirtfood Diet, also known as the “chocolate and red wine diet,” is purported to turn on a “skinny gene” that leads to weight loss.
- The world’s oldest unopened bottle of red wine--dating back to 325 C.E.-- is the Speyer wine bottle, excavated from a Roman nobleman’s tomb in Germany in 1867.
The idea that red wine is healthy dates back to a well-known concept in the 1980s, known as the French Paradox. It referred to the fact that the French, who consumed red wine regularly, seemed to experience relatively low rates of heart disease despite eating a diet rich in fatty foods like cheese and butter.
Theoretically, wine could have heart-protecting properties due to the presence of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skins. However, the resveratrol content of red wine is usually found to be relatively low. You would have to consume several bottles of wine per day to reach an amount that would have any significant impact.
The evidence that wine makes us any healthier is also pretty weak. The effects of alcohol on human health have never been examined in a long-term, randomized controlled trial, which is considered the gold standard of scientific research for proving causal relationships. This means that past studies on red wine have never actually shown a direct cause and effect.
The French Paradox is also now understood to not be so paradoxical after all. Experts today believe that other factors, such as lifestyle and dietary practices, may provide a better explanation for the health of the French. While French people do indeed consume a high-fat diet, they also tend to avoid other foods associated with heart disease, such as soda and deep-fried snacks.
Red wine is, therefore, not going to provide any noticeable benefit to your health. If you genuinely wanted to reap the benefits of resveratrol, you may be better off consuming grapes.
Regular consumption of red wine has been an important custom found in many cultures for centuries--and with good reason. Red wine has a wide variety of health benefits, both physical and mental, and a growing body of evidence now supports what many cultures have suspected for generations.
Studies show that regular consumption of red wine lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, mainly by increasing the 'good' HDL cholesterol and reducing the 'bad' LDL cholesterol. Scientists have also found that the skins of grapes used in making red wine contain antioxidant-rich polyphenols, which encourage an increased diversity of healthy gut bacteria.
Red wine also contains the essential and often-overlooked compound resveratrol, credited with reversing the aging process by neutralizing free radicals. Also found in grape skin, resveratrol functions as an anti-inflammatory agent throughout the body, allowing for red wine consumption to promote brain and respiratory health.
Regular red wine consumption can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, helping those who imbibe to relax and improve their sleep. Drinking red wine also helps the body increase serotonin levels while simultaneously lowering cortisol levels. Additionally, the antioxidants found in red wine help make blood platelets less binding, reducing the risk of stroke and leading to an improved blood flow to the brain and thus enhanced brain health. Promising studies have also shown that red wine may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
With modern science discovering the numerous health benefits of regular red wine consumption in moderation, its long-standing cultural importance should be no surprise.