Is Drinking a Glass of Red Wine ACTUALLY Good for You?

July 9, 2021/Healthy Eating
Michele Park, Park Studios

Is wine good for you? Hmm… Sometimes it seems as if it’s impossible to keep up with the latest “health” information. I remember the ads that shouted eggs were bad and only the whites were healthy…followed a few years later by the ads that showed an egg getting out of jail because (surprise) the whole egg can be eaten.

It also seems as if the information is constantly being contradicted: are grains good or bad? What about fruits and vegetables? If only some are okay to eat, which ones and why?

It’s no wonder that some people just give up, eat what they want, and hope for the best! That’s obviously not the best plan, but it is understandable.

One of the most contested questions (and the one that many women want a definitive answer to) is whether or not drinking red wine is actually good for you.

I’m no doctor, so I can’t say absolutely one way or another. What follows, however, is some information I have found. I’ll include a brief description and at the end, I’ll tell you what I think overall.

Antioxidants

Merlot Grapes on Vine in Vineyard
Merlot Grapes on Vine in Vineyard

You often read about antioxidants in relation to skincare and cleansing. Berries and the skin of grapes (especially red or purple grapes) are known to have antioxidant properties. Red wine is made from…grapes, right?

So, it stands to reason that some of those antioxidant properties from the grape (or even berries if you like deeper richer wines) could find their way into red wine. Obviously, it isn’t medicinal and it’s not going to be a clear antioxidant on its own. But it is possible that moderation (as in a glass a day) could produce antioxidants.

Polyphenols

These are chemicals that appear naturally in many plants, including grapes and berries. They are known for their antioxidant properties, but at least one study has found that polyphenols can have a positive influence on gut microbiota.

In plain language, polyphenols may help regulate the other naturally occurring chemical reactions in your gut.

Additionally, polyphenols may be helpful in reducing insulin resistance, which means they could lower the risks inherent with developing Type 2 diabetes.

Resveratrol

This particular antioxidant is thought to be effective in preventing damage to blood vessels and reducing inflammation which could (in turn) make for a healthier heart.

It should be noted, however, that studies surrounding resveratrol have been mixed, with differing opinions as to whether there is enough resveratrol in a glass of wine to make a difference.

Mediterranean Diet

One of the most interesting examples supporting red wine being good for a person actually comes in the form of cause and effect.

The Mediterranean Diet has often been described as being highly effective in reducing mortality risks, and this is largely due to the sheer number of polyphenols found in the foods that make up the Mediterranean Diet. So, if you’re eating a Mediterranean-based diet, you’re already receiving the benefits of those polyphenols.

But let’s look at geography for a second. What country do you think of when you think of the Mediterranean? Greece? Italy? Both correct. And what do you (possibly) associate with Italy (aside from pasta, of course)?

Chianti, maybe? That is a Red Wine.

I know the logic may seem a little bit tenuous, but a Mediterranean Diet actually makes allowances for red wine consumption in moderation. Millions of Italians and their recorded longevity can’t be wrong!

Summarizing

Obviously, some of this is tongue in cheek, and none of it is meant to be an “end all” definitive answer on the health effects of a glass of red wine.

However, as you have read, polyphenols (including resveratrol) are good, as are antioxidants. Those are found in the fruits that are used to make red wine. Pure logic shows that the benefits could therefore be found in a glass of red wine.

I know that there are other factors, like ethanol, alcohol sugars, also the vintage (the year the grapes were picked and processed) could also affect other aspects of this. However, I think that one glass of red wine on occasion could not be too harmful.

As I have mentioned before, though, moderation matters. Also, every person’s body chemistry is different, so you should always consult with your doctor if you have specific questions relating to other health issues.

But overall, I would say don’t be afraid to treat yourself. You might very well make yourself (and your heart) happy in the process!

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