Health Benefits of Red Wine


Drinking is good for you. Well, drinking moderate amounts of red wine is good for you.

And most people know this already. As an avid wine-drinker myself, this little factoid has always made me happy when relaxing with a glass after a long day at work.

In fact, I'm drinking a glass right now. Ahhh ...

But how exactly is red wine good for your health? This is the part many people are unclear about.

Health Benefits of Red Wine

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Its Antioxidants Help Prevent Heart Disease:

Antioxidants called polyphenols found in red wine help prevent heart disease by protecting the lining of the blood vessels connected to your heart, while also dilating arteries and increasing blood flow, which lowers the risk of problematic clots developing. Red wine also increases levels of good cholesterol so help prevent artery damage.

Scientists think a polyphenol called resveratrol, in particular, helps prevent damage to vessels and prevent blood clots, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies on mice show resveratrol may also be linked to a reduction of inflammation, also a big cause of heart conditions.

The "good" cholesterol previously mentioned refers to high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, which helps remove "bad" cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This is beneficial because HDL removes most of the LDL from the bloodstream before it has an opportunity to clog up the vessels. In the even that some LDL remains, the phenols in red wine appear to limit the amount of oxidation that takes place in them, which lowers their ability to damage artery linings.

WebMD states that researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that those who drank red wine moderately reduced their risk of dying prematurely by almost one third, and people in this group had a significantly lower mortality rate from cardiovascular disease and cancer. It's also interesting to note that the researchers found light drinkers of any kind of alcoholic beverage helped their health, but those with the biggest benefits were wine drinkers.

Keep in mind, though, these were moderate drinkers.

It May Help Prevent Cancer

I mentioned previously that Swedish researchers found light drinkers were less susceptible to die from cancer. Well, according to WebMD, smarties at the University of Crete in Greece published their research in the June 2000 issue of Journal of Cellular Biochemistry that said phenols, which are found in red wine, suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells.

French scientists also found evidence that the previously mentioned resveratrol may also help prevent the growth of liver cancer cells and oral cancer.

Health Benefits of Red WineIt May Also Stave off Osteoporosis

Some studies suggest that moderate drinking helps people retain bone mineral density.

A report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, as cited by WebMD, stated that bone mineral density was higher by 12-16% in a study of nearly 500 elderly women, while a separate study published in the November 2000 journal Osteoporosis International showed middle-aged men also had greater bone density if they drank a glass or two of alcohol a day.
 
It's Good for Your Teeth Enamel

Isn't that crazy? Although red wine does annoyingly stain teeth, it does not actually erode the enamel on your pearly whites.

An article published in The Telegraph stated that researchers at Pavia University in Italy exposed bacteria that was harmful to tooth enamel to a small amount of red wine that was removed of its alcohol content. This experiment was aimed at clarifying whether it was the alcohol, or something else in red wine, that was beneficial to teeth enamel.

What the researchers found was that  harmful organisms were not able to cling on to teeth or saliva once they were exposed to red wine. This was because an active ingredient in the wine was a group of compounds called proanthocyanidins. These chemicals have many antioxidants that are found mainly in grape skins, and render harmful bacteria unable to erode the enamel on our teeth.
 
I wonder if simply eating grape skins would help protect tooth enamel too?
 
Health Benefits of Red Wine... But It's Dangerous if You Drink To Much
 
I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't state this obvious, but important, message:
 
Do not drink excessively.
 
Although moderate drinking does have its health benefits, certainly don't overdo it, as hundreds of thousands of people still die every year from liver disease. For me, moderate drinking is whatever amount of alcohol or less I can consume without feeling in any way sleepy, affected or otherwise compromised. If you can't figure out what "moderate" is for you, then limit yourself to at most two glasses a day, or ask your doctor. 
 
Also, don't drink and drive. That's selfish and stupid.
 
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Okay, that was a very long post, and I have finished my glass of wine.
 
I think I'll pour myself another.

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