Straight, No Chaser: The Health Benefits of Red Wine
We’re approaching the weekend, and we’re coming off a lot of Straight, No Chaser posts on alcohol, so let’s just address some questions you’ve asked about the benefits of alcohol.
So alcohol is good for me now (especially after all those other blog posts)?
Red wine has been known to provide specific health benefits for at least 10 years now. Of course, you have to interact with it in a certain way to receive these benefits. More on that in a bit, but yes, moderate alcohol consumption (especially red wine) does have a direct, beneficial effect on the heart.
Can you be more specific?
Ok. The skin and seeds of red grapes contain substances called flavonoids. Flavonoids reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) production, increase good cholesterol (HDL) production and reduce blood clotting, all of which are significant risks leading to many instances of heart disease. Each of these actions by flavonoids independently reduce the risk of heart disease.
Ok. So how much wine should I be drinking per day?
If you’re drinking “for the health benefits,” a four-ounce serving is generally what’s recommended for women, and 4-8 ounces works for men. Higher levels of daily consumption than this introduce health risks that offset any benefits.
Is this true for all wines?
Unfortunately, not to the same extent. Here are two simple (and admittedly overly simplistic) rules regarding the number of healthy flavonoids in wine.
- Red wines are better than whites.
- Bitter red wines are better than sweet wines.
The best red wines have been found to be Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir.
So should I start drinking if I don’t already?
Probably not. Most drinkers don’t have the discipline to limit their consumption to just one 4-8 ounce serving of red wine a day, and alcohol comes with too many other health risks to offset the benefits of not drinking at all. This is especially true in those with existing health conditions such as hypertension, pancreatitis, depression, high cholesterol/triglycerides or congestive heart failure. Besides, grape juice has been shown to offer the same benefits!
Enjoy your weekend, just remember (as I always say): good health isn’t found at the bottom of a bottle!
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