What are the Health Benefits of Red Wine?

The admonition “drink responsibly” is tagged onto all promotions for alcoholic beverages. But what if drinking responsibly meant drinking wine every day? Could that possibly be?

Yes, actually. Consuming wine, just a little bit, every day can have attractive health benefits.

And if you enjoy sipping wine while enjoying a bubble bath and candlelight, with friends in front of a fireplace, or on the porch with your significant other watching the sun set, you’re in growing company. Here’s a fun fact – in 2018, American adults consumed approximately 966 million gallons of wine – up from 798 million gallons in 2010.

Humans were making wines as far back as 4,300 BC in Asia, and residue of wine was found in jars in the tomb of ancient Egyptian pharaohs (notably of the Scorpion King, about 3150 BC). It is also a staple in the Mediterranean region, where red wine holds a prominent place in the popular Mediterranean diet.

For centuries, people across the globe have imbibed wines for fun and relaxation (and of course, to get rip-roaringly drunk, which is not recommended for obvious reasons).

Red wine is the wellness star among juices of the fermented grape, for it is a flowingly abundant source of resveratrol, itself a standout in the beneficial biologically active group of compounds known as polyphenols. Authors of one review write, “Clinical studies have shown that resveratrol, due to its potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is cardio-protective, chemotherapeutic, neuroprotective, and displays anti-aging effects.”

Here are several reasons to raise a glass and toast to your (and your loved ones’) health.

Overall, moderate wine drinking has been shown repeatedly to provide a wide ranging slew of protective benefits, including, say authors of one review, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders, and metabolic syndrome.  They write, “Suggested biological pathways include antioxidant, lipid regulating, and anti-inflammatory effects. Both the alcoholic and polyphenolic components of wine are believed to contribute to these beneficial effects.”

Blood Sugar Management:  In a pivotal study, the CASCADE (CArdiovaSCulAr Diabetes & Ethanol) trial, 224 non-alcoholic drinkers with type 2 diabetes were randomized to consume red wine, white wine or mineral water for two years. The results showed that women who consumed 150 ml of red wine daily for more than two years had increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels compared to women who drank white wine or water. Women also had increased apolipoprotein levels. 

Metabolic Syndrome: Another study investigated the effects of red wine drinking and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in 3,897 individuals with MetS. Compared to non-wine drinkers, those who averaged one glass of red wine a day were found to have a reduced risk of prevalent MetS and healthier level of MetS key factors. This association was found to be stronger in women and in those individuals who were former or current smokers, suggesting that red wine has a protective effect.

Heart Health: Previous research has shown that consuming red wine is linked to a lesser risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), often attributed to the variety of polyphenols such as resveratrol as well as quercetin, epicatechin and anthocyanin. “Resveratrol is considered the most effective wine compound with respect to the prevention of CHD because of its antioxidant properties. The mechanisms responsible for its putative cardioprotective effects would include changes in lipid profiles, reduction of insulin resistance, and decrease in oxidative stress of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C),” write authors of a published review about the relationship between red wine and heart health.

Another aspect determining cardiovascular status is inflammation; inflammation is a complex process involving numerous biomarkers, including immune cells. In one study, researchers wanted to see how the compounds in red wine affected the expression of inflammatory biomarkers associated with atherosclerosis in 67 men who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The subjects in the randomized, crossover trial consumed red wine, dealcoholized red wine or gin daily for four weeks. According to the authors, red wine compounds “may modulate leukocyte adhesion molecules, whereas both ethanol and polyphenols of RW may modulate soluble inflammatory mediators in high-risk patients.”

Vision support: Researchers in one study write, “Owing to its vascular-enhancing properties, resveratrol may be effective in the microcirculation of the eye, thereby helping prevent ocular diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.” They concluded in their review that the protective effects of resveratrol in eye health are indeed “extensive.”

Oral health: Although red wine consumption can stain teeth, the bounty of whiteners can fix that because the benefits to oral health outweigh tannin-imbued teeth.

Drinking red wine may prevent cavities, according to more recent science. Researchers in a study found that wine consumption might prevent tooth loss and periodontal diseases, as well. It concluded that the combination of wine and grape seed extract could effectively thwart 60% bacterial mouth infections. A 2018 study conducted by the team found out that polyphenols – caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid – contained in wines can support oral health. The researchers concluded that exposure to the wine-containing antioxidants could prevent cavities and plaque. Further, said the scientists, the red wine polyphoneols would be more effective if combined with Streptococcus dentisani, an oral probiotic that can inhibit bacterial growth. 

One meta-analysis showed that resveratrol (found in red wine) prevented progression of periodontal disease.

Microbiota Improvement: In one systematic review, researchers focused on reciprocal interactions between the gut microbiota and red-wine polyphenols, revealing the strong nature of this association. The authors emphasized that the gut bacteria play a key role in controlling the influence of the production and activities of phenolic metabolites from consumed polyphenols; all studies reviewed found (and confirmed) that red wine polyphenols were influenced positively by gut microbiota. They write that these compounds “can contribute to beneficial microbial ecology that can enhance human health benefits.”

One randomized, crossover, controlled intervention study of 10 male participants found that after 20 days of daily consumption of red wine, they had higher amounts of Enterococcus, Prevotella, Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides uniformis, Eggerthella lenta, and Blautia coccoides-Eubacterium rectale groups. Here too, the researchers concluded that red wine consumption can significantly modulate the growth of select gut microbiota in humans, suggesting that red wine polyphenols may have a prebiotic effect 

Conclusion

In healthy people, one glass of red wine daily will not only have physiological benefits, but provide a sense of peaceful indulgence. If you prefer white wine, you will absolutely obtain the same experiential bonus, but it has one-tenth the amount of resveratrol. You can augment your glass of good cheer with resveratrol supplements. We’ll toast to that!

 

 

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