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September 13, 2019

The health benefits of red wine

Antioxidants like flavonoids and resveratrol may help the heart

Adult Health Red Wine
Red Wine 09132019 Image by Christine Sponchia/from Pixabay

Red wine has purported health benefits – in moderation.

Whether it's chocolate, coffee or wine, we love to read about studies suggesting our little indulgences are actually good for us. 

Wine lovers rejoice every time there is a new study that ties red wine consumption to better heart health, but before you pour yourself another glass, let’s take a closer look at this claim.

While drinking red wine in moderation has been considered heart-healthy for a long time, the reasons are still not completely understood.

The Mayo Clinic explains that “part of the benefit might be that antioxidants may increase levels of high-density (lipoprotein) (HDL) cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.” Red wine contains antioxidants like flavonoids and resveratrol, a type of polyphenol. Resveratrol is thought to protect the lining of your heart’s blood vessels. Some studies have shown that resveratrol reduces the risk of inflammation and blood clotting, but other studies have found no heart benefits at all.

MORE HEALTH: A daily glass of red wine is good for gut health, study finds

More research is needed to truly understand how red wine impacts the heart. All the links between red wine and heart benefits so far have just been loose associations, not direct correlations. According to Harvard Health, you would have to drink hundreds of glasses of wine a day to see any real benefit. And what if you prefer white wine? Unfortunately, it does not provide the same health benefits. (The process of making red wine requires longer fermentation with grape skins, hence the higher concentration of resveratrol.)

Now what the experts at the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health and Johns Hopkins, want you to realize is that none of these studies give you carte blanche to drink as much red wine as you want. Not only is alcohol addictive, but it can increase your risk for liver and pancreas diseases, obesity, heart failure, stroke and certain types of cancer.

Stick to moderate consumption of alcohol which is considered one drink a day or less for women and men older than 65, and two drinks or less a day for men 65 and younger.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t start drinking red wine purely for its health benefits. Go ahead and enjoy a guilt-free glass to help you unwind after a long day, but don’t go binge drinking at your local bar.

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