Benefits of Wine

Overview

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grapes or other fruits. Unlike beer, wine can be made without the addition of sugars and other nutrients. Wine is a widely popular beverage that research suggests may have positive effects on health. The key to getting these benefits, however, is consuming wine in moderation (two 5-ounce glasses a day for men and one for women). Drinking too much alcohol can have a negative effect on the body, increasing the risk of liver disease, high blood pressure, weight gain, and some cancers.

Moderate consumption of all alcohol, including red wine, seems to be linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Alcohol is thought to raise levels of good cholesterol, prevent blood clotting, and protect arteries. Red wine is often considered to carry more health benefits than other types of wine and other alcoholic drinks, although there is no conclusive evidence to support this. Red wine contains more antioxidants than other wines, mostly because its production requires that grape skins be fermented longer. The antioxidants found in grapes and red wine have long been thought to promote heart health. One of these antioxidants is a polyphenol called resveratrol. Some research suggests that resveratrol may protect heart health by preventing damage to blood vessels, lowering levels of bad cholesterol, and preventing blood clot formation, all of which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Recent research also suggests that in addition to heart benefits, red wine may help to prevent depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The effects of wine on the brain are, however, not well understood, and medical professionals caution against drinking in people with depression or other mental disorders.

Medical professionals do not recommend drinking alcohol to prevent heart disease or other medical conditions. Most of the supposed benefits of wine can be achieved other ways.While there may be a link between wine consumption and health, more research is needed to understand the nature of the relationship. It is possible that lower disease risk associated with wine is actually due to healthier lifestyles among those who most commonly drink wine in moderation. The average moderate wine drinker is more likely to be physically active, health conscious, and of a higher socioeconomic status, all of which can influence health.It is also important to recognize the risks associated with drinking any type of alcohol. Even moderate alcohol consumption is related to increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and accidental injuries. People who have existing medical conditions should talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol. Pregnant women should avoid drinking all alcohol.

More Information

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcohol/SC00024

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089/METHOD=print

Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001963.htm

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_wine