The health benefits of red wine have been debated for some time.
Many believe that a glass each day is a valuable part of a healthy diet, while others think wine is somewhat overrated.
Studies have repeatedly shown that moderate red wine consumption seems to lower the risk of several diseases, including heart disease.
However, there is a fine line between moderate and excessive intake.
This article takes a detailed look at red wine and its health effects.
What Is Red Wine and How Is It Made?
Red wine is made by crushing and fermenting dark-colored, whole grapes.
There are many types of red wine, which vary in taste and color. Common varieties include Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
The alcohol content usually ranges from 12–15%.
Consuming moderate amounts of red wine has been shown to have health benefits. This is mainly due to its high content of powerful antioxidants.
The alcohol in wine is also believed to contribute to some of the benefits of moderate wine consumption.
Red Wine Contains Powerful Plant Compounds and Antioxidants, Including Resveratrol
Grapes are rich in many antioxidants. These include resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins.
These antioxidants, especially resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, are believed to be responsible for the health benefits of red wine.
Proanthocyanidins may reduce oxidative damage in the body. They may also help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Resveratrol is found in grape skin. It is produced in some plants, as a response to damage or injury.
This antioxidant has been linked with many health benefits, including fighting inflammation and blood clotting and reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Resveratrol can also make test animals live longer.
Red Wine May Lower the Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke and Early Death
Small amounts of red wine are linked to more health benefits than any other alcoholic beverage.
There seems to be a J-shaped curve that explains the relationship between wine intake and the risk of heart disease.
People who drink approximately 150 ml (5 oz) of red wine a day seem to be at about a 32% lower risk than non-drinkers.
However, higher intake increases the risk of heart disease dramatically.
Drinking small amounts of red wine may reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to retain the “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood. Oxidative damage and the oxidation of the “bad” LDL cholesterol may also be reduced by up to 50%.
Some studies indicate that populations already at a high risk of heart disease, like the elderly, may benefit even more from moderate wine consumption.
Furthermore, drinking 1–3 glasses of red wine per day, 3–4 days of the week, may reduce the risk of stroke in middle-aged men.
One study also showed that consuming 2–3 glasses of dealcoholized red wine per day may lower blood pressure.
Many studies have shown that moderate wine drinkers are at a lower risk of death from heart disease, compared to non-drinkers or beer and spirit drinkers
Drinking 1–2 glasses of red wine each day may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, high amounts may increase the risk.
Should You Drink Red Wine? If Yes, How Much?
If you like drinking red wine, there is no need to worry unless if you are exceeding the recommended amount.
In Europe and America, moderate red wine consumption is considered to be:
- 1–1.5 glasses per day for women
- 1–2 glasses per day for men
Some sources also recommend having 1-2 alcohol-free days each week.
Keep in mind that this refers to total alcohol intake. Drinking this amount of red wine in addition to other alcoholic beverages could easily put you in the range of excessive consumption.