Health benefits of red wine have made many headlines over the past few decades. Numerous medical experts previously regarded any type of alcohol as something to be avoided. However, red wine, when consumed in moderation, has been proven beneficial in many ways. Below are some of the numerous health benefits associated with this type of wine:
Virtually everyone would agree that it is important to protect your heart in order to live a long and healthy life. Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure can significantly reduce a person’s lifespan. Certain substances in red wine increase levels of something called high density lipoprotein, more commonly referred to simply as HDL. HDL is considered “good” cholesterol” and protects one from developing all types of coronary artery damage. This in turn can slow down the development of the heart diseases mentioned above.
Many health experts also believe that other substances found in red wine have heart healthy benefits. These substances are resveratrol and flavanoids, which are antioxidants that have a positive effect on the entire cardiovascular system. Certain research also indicates that resveratrol may be associated with a reduced risk of blood clotting and inflammation, both of which can eventually cause heart trouble.
Resveratrol is found in grape skins and during the wine making process it is preserved and its oxidation is prevented. This is not the case with regular grape juice or raisins. Therefore, the benefits of resveratrol are only truly realized when it is consumed in the form of wine. Additionally, the polyphenols in red wine, which are another type of antioxidant, strengthen the lining of the cardiovascular blood vessels.
Some individuals may soon be raising a glass of cabernet sauvignon in a toast to weight loss. An agricultural study completed by scientists at Oregon State College determined that consuming a glass of wine each day could lead to an annual weight loss of approximately 12 pounds. The research team spent approximately two and a half months feeding mice a high-fat diet. Half the mice were given red wine extract, while the other half consumed only the high-fat diet without the special extract.
The mice that were given the red wine extract had lower blood sugar and stored less liver fat. This was due to something in the wine extract called ellargic acids. These acids evidently have the power to retard the growth of fat cells. They also impede the development of new ones. The mice that consumed the high-fat diet alone developed diabetic symptoms and the fatty liver. Studies conducted on humans indicated similar results. It is likely that more focus will be given to researching ellargic acids in the future.
Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Quercetin, another antioxidant that becomes quite potent during the wine making process has been proven to work against cancer cells. This research was completed by the American Cancer Society, but it is not yet known exactly why quercetin has this effect.
Additionally, moderate consumption of red wine lowers one’s risk of developing colon cancer by almost 50 percent. This fact was discovered after a Stony Brook University study was conducted on 2200 individuals in 2010. The research was completed over a four-year period and was one of the first studies to definitively prove that red wine can reduce the risk of cancer. In addition, quercetin also helps to promote the natural death of specific cancer cells, particularly those associated with colon cancer. This is because it is believed to block the proteins on which such cancer cells feed.
Red grapes also suppress aromatase, which is an enzyme utilized by breast cancer cells to produce their own estrogen. It is thought that red wine serves as an aromatase disruptor. This may ultimately lead to slower growing tumors in breast cancer patients or even spontaneous remission in certain cases.
A Harvard Men’s Health Watch study concluded that men who consume an average of five glasses of red wine each week slash their risk of developing prostate cancer by more than 50 percent. Red wine seems especially protective against aggressive or advanced cancers. Physicians speculate that the antioxidants in resveratrol and flavanoids may have a counterbalancing effect on androgens. Androgens are prostate stimulating male hormones.
Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease
The powerful antioxidant resveratrol offers more than just heart benefits. It has also been proven to prevent age-related cognitive decline and slow the brain cell damage that occurs over time. Additionally, it may also improve short-term memory by up to 20 percent. After only 30 minutes of testing, a specific study determined that resveratrol also had a positive effect on the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the specific portion of the brain that controls emotions, learning and the formation of new memories. Participants in the clinical trial have a substantial increase in the retention of words. In addition, their brains appeared to work 17 percent faster than those who were given a placebo.
Interestingly, a study conducted at Columbia University in 2013 indicated that human brain function declines at a considerably faster rate in nondrinkers than in those who consume several glasses of red wine each week. This study was conducted on 1400 people and its findings were published in 2014 in Neuroepidemiology magazine.
Health Benefits of Red Wine Include Longevity
Among the many health benefits of red wine is the potential for a longer life. Studies have shown that drinkers of red wine have a 35 percent lower mortality rate than those who consume other types of alcohol such as vodka, scotch or beer. The long-term study was conducted over the course of three decades. At the end of the study, it was determined that red wine’s longevity benefits are due to esveratrol and a property referred to as tannins. The study was conducted on over 2500 participants, and the findings were published in 2011 in Gerontology magazine.
Lowers Risk of Stroke
In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, resveratrol and tannins also significantly lesson a person’s risk of stroke. Tannins contain procyanidins, as well. Procyanidins are antioxidants that destroy many of the chemicals responsible for the formation of blood clots. The latter are the main cause of stoke. Consuming a bit of red wine each day reduces blood clot related strokes by as much as 51 percent. This fact was determined in 2006 by a Columbia University study involving 3,175 men and women that was conducted over the course of eight years.
Over the past decade, it was discovered that moderate drinkers of red wine were 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those who primarily consumed beer or other types of alcohol. Additionally, a general study completed in 2013 on 1500 men and women in Iceland found that moderate drinkers were 30 percent less likely to develop cataracts over their entire lifetime.
Another eye health benefit associated with red wine is the prevention of out-of-control blood vessel growth in the eyes. This overgrowth of blood vessels is associated with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic neuropathy, and even certain types of glaucoma. A Washington University School of Medicine study indicated that the instance of such occurrences were reduced by approximately 20 percent in those who regularly consume red wine in moderation.
Reduces Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes, also called adult onset diabetes is prevalent in the United States. Research conducted on over 350,000 men and women over the course of 12 years has determined that moderate drinkers of red wine have 30 percent lower risk of developing this type of diabetes than nondrinkers. This study was published in Diabetes Care magazine in 2015. It was conducted the year before at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center. Once again, this lower risk of developing adult onset diabetes may be due to resveratrol. The latter improves insulin sensitivity, which is the primary contributing factor to the development of type II diabetes.
It is also believed that the polyphenols found in red wine interact with cells that regulate blood sugar and storage of fat. The amount of polyphenols in just six ounces of red wine appears to rival the effect of certain diabetes drugs concerning the regulation of blood sugar.
Improves Dental Health
Recent studies have shown that the aforementioned polyphenols also prevent tooth cavities by slowing the growth of bacteria in the mouth. To confirm these findings, scientific researchers treated various bacteria cultures–primarily those that cause tooth decay–with several different liquids. Among the liquids studied, red wine had the best effect with regard to eradicating cavity causing bacteria.
Lower Cholesterol Without Dietary Changes
It is the opinion of many health researchers that resveratrol reduces the presence of LDL–bad cholesterol. At the same time, it increases good cholesterol. This means that those who consume resveratrol-rich red wine are less likely to develop blood vessels that are coated with plaque. Many studies show that the increase in HDL is as high as 15 percent among those who consume a daily glass of red wine.
This can be a great benefit for people who find it difficult to change their diet. However, consuming moderate amounts of red wine should always be combined with a healthy diet in order to enhance its positive effect. Those planning to switch to red wine for its cholesterol-lowering benefits should choose high-fiber varieties. These include red wines such as Rioja and Tempranillo.
Protection Against the Common Cold
A recent study conducted in Spain on 4000 participants proves that red wine as a cold remedy is not simply an old wives’ tale. Due to the antioxidants found in red wine, it has been proven that it does indeed help to fend off the common cold.
Those who consumed a glass or two of red wine a day were 40 percent less likely to experience colds and respiratory infections, even when exposed to virulent germs. Although the exact reason for this is not yet known, many researchers believe that the antioxidants in red wine support something called homeostasis. This is simply the term for a balanced physical body, where everything is working in harmony, including the person’s immune system.
Banishing Breakouts with Red Wine
In addition to the health benefits listed above, drinkers of red wine can also look forward to a clearer complexion in many cases. This is due to resveratrol, which can inhibit the growth of the bacteria that causes acne. In fact, it is better able to perform this function than the substances found in over-the-counter acne medicine, such as benzoyl peroxide.
Tests have been done on topical creams that contain resveratrol. However, studies have shown that to enjoy the best benefits of the substance, it should be consumed in wine.
One mistake frequently made by individuals who are exploring the healthy benefits of red wine is to try to buy such benefits of the bottle instead of drinking the wine. It is better to learn how to incorporate red wine as part of a healthy lifestyle than to try to find similar effects by using red wine supplements. This is because research has proven that the benefits are not as potent when they come from synthetic supplements as they are when they are taken directly from red wine.
Although the health benefits of red wine are numerous, most medical experts do not recommend using wine or any other alcoholic beverage if one was previously a non-drinker. Even though most individuals who drink socially do not become alcoholics, there is no way to know in advance who will develop a problem with this substance and who will not. For this reason, it is not wise to begin drinking solely for the purpose of red wine health benefits. However, those who already drink socially should strongly consider switching their choice of drinks in order to enjoy the many health benefits of red wine.
Sources / References: