To Your Health
The surprisingly salient benefits of a glass of wine
Story by Victor Lorthos
Drink | January 2016
There’s been much ado in the medialately about the various health benefits of drinking red wine, and even other alcohols, but what are the facts? How does it do this? How much is enough and how much is too much? Is a nice red better than a chilled white? What about champagne? There’s a lot of information available on the internet and it can be a bit overwhelming at times.
Red wine contains resveratrol, a handy compound which has been linked to reducing bad cholesterol, protecting blood vessels from damage, and even preventing blood clots. It has also been possibly shown to help with depression, colon cancer and have anti-aging properties, according to studies from Spain, the United Kingdom, and Harvard Medical School, respectively. Whereas regular consumption of most alcoholic drinks increases the risk of breast cancer, according to researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, some chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes actually reduce estrogen in premenopausal women while raising testosterone, which in turn reduces the risk of breast cancer. Resveratrol and procyanidins in red wine have been shown to do possibly everything from preventing liver disease and dementia to helping lung function and protecting the brain after a stroke.
All this good news has definitely helped the local restaurant scene. At Greencork, a self-serve wine bar in Midtown Memphis, owner Robin Brown weighs in with her expert opinion.
“When thinking of the best wines for your health, look for the darkest reds. Grapes with dark thick skins yield the most procyanidins, resveratrol, polyphenols, OPCs and other substances now being recognized as healthy and protective,” she says. “The most recognizable and available wines in this category are Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and, to some degree, Pinot Noir.”
To be fair, it has also been shown that some of the same benefits are available from grapes and grape juice, but what’s the fun in that?
So is red wine the new miracle food? Should we just replace all that horrible kale in our recipes with a bottle of the darkest red vino and call it a day? Well, not quite so fast, unfortunately. Firstly, though there have been a plethora of studies that show a possible link between red wine and health, so far none have shown a direct link. It looks good, but more studies are needed to prove that wine in any amount is really good for you. In fact, there are some studies that show that even small amounts of alcohol can be bad for health in the long term. Secondly, these studies all center around “moderate” drinking. The Mayo Clinic says moderate drinking is “up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.” The problems with consuming too much alcohol are well-documented as are issues with alcoholism.
According to Reading University, even champagne contains similar amounts of resveratrol and may even help improve memory. But overall, it seems that a good red is the best.