One of my favourite things in life is a good red wine!  Perhaps this article is justifying my own personal love, but let’s take a minute to explore further the many benefits of drinking red wine.

A Short History

Red wine has long been acknowledged for its health benefits.  Hippocrates, often referred to as the “father of western medicine”, promoted it as part of a healthy diet.    In the Bible, Paul the Apostle recommended a little wine now and then to help digestion.  During the middle ages, Catholic monks used wine for a wide range of medical treatments.  During the cholera epidemic in Germany in the 1800's, wine was even used to sterilize water!

And now, a list of the current benefits associated with red varieties of wine. 

 

red Wine BottleCredit: morguefile

Reduces Risk of Depression

One study, printed in the BMC Medicine Journal, indicated that drinking wine may actually reduce the risk of depression.  Over 5000 people were followed over a seven year period.  Researchers discovered that men and women who drank between two and seven glasses each week were less likely to be diagnosed with depression.

 Anti-Aging

Is it possible that the long sought-after fountain of youth is as close as a glass of your favourite red?  A study conducted at Harvard Medical School indicates that this may just be the case.  Resveratrol, found in the skins of red grapes, is full of anti-aging antioxidants.  Resveratrol is found in other foods, such as blueberries and cranberries, but a full-bodied wine is said to have a higher level of anti-aging antioxidants than the famed 'miracle-juice' of Acai.  The darker the colour of wine, the higher the level of antioxidants.

Heart-Healthy

Red wine has long been associated with heart health.  The antioxidants help prevent heart disease by increasing the levels of good cholesterol, whilst lowering bad cholesterol.  Resveratrol seems to be the magic component, as it is believed to be nearly as effective as aspirin for preventing clotting.

Prevents Breast Cancer

Generally speaking, drinking alcoholic beverages on a regular basis has been linked with increasing the risk of breast cancer.  These findings are particularly interesting, as it appears drinking red wine has the opposite effect.  The chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes actually reduce estrogen levels, while simultaneously raising testosterone in premenopausal women, resulting in a lower risk of developing breast cancer!

Prevents the Common Cold

 Is there anything more annoying than the common cold?  One study found that individuals who drank more than 14 glasses of wine a week, over the span of one year, were 40% less likely to come down with a cold.  The antioxidants are believed to fight infection and protect cells against the effects of free radicals.

Lowers Risk of Dementia

Resveratrol does indeed seem to be the driving force behind the medicinal benefits of drinking red wine.  It keeps blood vessels open and flexible, which results in a good supply of blood to the brain.  It also hampers the formation of beta-amyloid protein, which is a key component of the plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer patients.  Those who drink red wine moderately are seen to have a slower decline in brain function than non-drinkers.  Those who enjoy red wine are therefore at less risk of developing dementia.

Weight Loss

The list goes on!  Does it get any better than this?  

Apparently, our bodies convert resveratrol into something called piceatonnol which actually prevents the growth of fat cells!!  Piceatonnol essentially blocks the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to grow and mature by binding itself to the insulin receptors in the fat cells.  

 Prevents Liver Disease

Alcohol consumption and poor liver health have long been connected, and for good reason.  So it is quite interesting to discover that modest wine consumption actually reduced the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by half, when compared with those who don't drink wine. 

Prevents Tooth Decay

To be fair, red wine has good and bad effects on the teeth.  I was well aware of the 'bad effect' of staining, so find it fascinating that red wine hardents your enamel, which prevents tooth decay.  The polyphenols in red wine are also thought to prevent gum disease.  Those who do suffer gum disease can even reduce the inflammation in the gums by drinking red wine.  

Moderation is of course key.  Drinking too much alcohol is not beneficial to one's health. Moderation has been loosely described as one glass per day for women, and two glasses per day for men.   This list is reason enough to snuggle up on the couch with a glass of vino and a good book.  Cheers!