Drinking moderate amounts of wine can offer some substantial health benefits. Red wine has been studied and shown to promote healthy cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. It also helps protect against some forms of cancer and supports mental health.
Most studies have been conducted only on red wine, but there are some results showing that white wine may contribute the same or similar benefits.
While these benefits are quite attractive, the key to increasing your health by imbibing alcohol comes from restraint. The idea that if “some is good, more is better” simply does not apply to wine. Currently, a moderate amount of alcohol for a man is one to two glasses a day; a glass is considered to be five ounces of wine. Alcohol affects women differently and is absorbed quicker; only one glass a day is considered to be safe. If you aren’t already an alcohol drinker, experts generally recommend not starting. However, if you already enjoy wine, read on to learn about some of the benefits of this luscious drink.
Most of the health benefits found in wine come from the antioxidant, resveratrol, a compound found in some plants. This compound fights off bacteria and fungi in plants and protects them from ultraviolet irradiation. Resveratrol is found in grapes, raspberries, blueberries and peanuts. When wine is made, the resveratrol from the grape seeds and skin lasts through the fermentation process and arrives in your glass ready to work its magic. (Red wine is fermented with the skins and has a higher content of resveratrol than white wine, although both kinds of wine have the compound.)
Multiple studies have shown that drinking wine can benefit your mental health. While excessive alcohol intake can contribute to depression, those who drink moderate amounts of wine actually have a reduced risk of depression. Wine seems to help prevent dementia, as well.
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Resveratrol may even protect the brain against stroke damage. Christian Nordqvist wrote in Medical News Today in September 2013, that “resveratrol reduces the stickiness of blood platelets, which helps keep the blood vessels open and flexible.” A good blood supply to the brain is important for exemplary mental function and resveratrol seems to be a prime contributor!
Wine can also offer significant benefits to your heart. Coupled with a healthy diet and regular physical exercise, moderate wine-drinking can decrease one’s risk of heart disease. Wine increases high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol), and these higher levels of good cholesterol are linked to lower risks of heart disease. The research evidence seems to point toward the alcohol component of alcoholic beverages as the contributor to helping increase good cholesterol while decreasing cholesterol levels overall. A study that was published in the January 2000 issue of European Heart Journal showed that wine seems to dilate arteries along with increasing the blood flow. As a result, the chance of heart-damaging clots forming is much lower. Additionally, wine appears to raise the level of Omega-3 fatty acids, known protectors against coronary heart disease. With about 600,000 deaths attributed to heart disease in the United States alone, the heart benefits from drinking a little wine are nothing to scoff at.
Wine has also been shown to help prevent several kinds of cancer. Wine appears to impact the development of bowel tumors, significantly lowering the risk (about 50 percent) of developing colon cancer. Imbibing red wine lowers the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. While alcohol consumption generally increases a women’s chance of getting breast cancer, studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of red wine actually decreases the chances. Wine also improves lung function and consequently helps prevent the development of lung cancer. Even the chances of developing liver cancer, surprisingly enough, are lower when consuming moderate amounts of red wine.
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Other Benefits of Wine
Wine is believed to have anti-aging properties, as well. Procyanidins, a compound that helps keep blood vessels healthy, is found in red wine and is thought to be a contributor to wine’s anti-aging properties. Many believe wine positively impact a person’s lifespan. “Monasteries throughout Europe were convinced that their monks’ longer lifespans, compared to the rest of the population, was partly due to their moderate, regular consumption of wine” says Christian Nordqvist for Medical News Today (September 2013).
The resveratrol in wine can also play an important role in stopping blinding diseases. Diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the eye. Resveratrol seems to effectively stop this overgrowth.
Another benefit from wine is protection from severe sunburn. When the ultraviolet rays of the sun hit our skin, a reactive oxygen species (ROS) is activated. Through a chain of events the activation of ROS contributes to enzymes harming skin cells. The flavonoids present in wine help prevent the appearance of ROS in skin cells that are exposed to sunlight.
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Problems With Wine Consumption
Even though wine can offer some significant health benefits, overconsumption can lead to a host of other serious illnesses, diseases and accidents. Check with your doctor before drinking moderately. (Do not drink if you have a family history of alcohol abuse.) Wine is filled with empty calories, so if weight is a problem for you, consider taking up an exercise regimen in place of or in addition to drinking wine. Liver disease, from excessive drinking, and automobile accidents kill thousands each year. Excessive drinking can also lead to depression and mental illness. Cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, stroke and hypertension can result from overconsumption of alcohol. Fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis, along with many cancers, pancreatitis and several other chronic diseases can all result from too much alcohol.
The benefits are there and studies have shown the value of consuming a little wine. So, drink moderately and use sound judgment!
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