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Wine and Your Health

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | December 11, 2010

The moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, defined as one to two drinks per day, has been suggested to increase overall good health and survival rates in a number of different population groups. Keep in mind that one standard drink is generally considered to be 5 ounces of wine.

Is Red Wine Better For Your Health?

Chemical and food experts have known for years that wine contains rich deposits of vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars that are often beneficial to good health. Some studies suggest that consumption of red wine may have additional health benefits. The regular drinking of red wine has been suggested as the explanation for the "French Paradox", which is the relatively low occurrences of coronary disease in France as compared with other Western countries, despite the generally high intake of saturated fat in the French diet. The chemical composition of red wine may contribute to its apparent benefit. A series of scientific studies suggests that the polyphenol compounds in red wine, such as flavonoids and resveratrol, may play an active role in limiting the start and progression of atherosclerosis (a condition in which an artery wall thickens as the result of a build-up of fatty materials such as cholesterol). Wine is also rich in potassium and low in sodium. Red wines have more of these elements due to the juices longer contact with the grape skins. Red wines are also rich in Vitamin B which comes from the grape skins as well.

According to many studies red wine is good for a person’s health in a number of ways, but the alcohol in red wine has little to do with it. Red wine happens to contain powerful antioxidants, substances that protect your cells against damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. The health benefits from wine are the same for men and women, but men can drink more given their generally larger body mass. Men may drink one or two 5 ounce glasses of wine per day, while women should consume only one glass. You should practice moderation when drinking, as having more than this amount has been linked to heart disease, liver damage, and other health problems.

Health Benefits

Protection against cancer: Resveratrol has been shown to reduce tumor incidence and inhibit growth of cancer cells in the laboratory. Studies have begun to directly link red wine consumption to reduction of cancer risk in humans. Research has shown that a glass of red wine a day can cut a man's risk of prostate cancer in half, particularly when it comes to the most aggressive types of prostate cancer.

Protection against neurological disorders: Researchers have found that resveratrol can help block the formation of amyloid plaques which are thought to damage brain cells and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that resveratrol actually aided in the formation of new nerve cells, which could help prevent neurological disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Other health benefits: Doctors continue to find new ways in which the antioxidant effects of red wine benefit the body. Researchers have found that red wine cuts down on the inflammation and tissue damage caused by periodontal, or gum disease.

Wine also has a tranquil effect on the body and helps people who have trouble sleeping.

Good for the Heart – Reduce Heart Disease - Lowering Your Cholesterol

Flavonoids in red wine are believed to decrease the amount of "bad" cholesterol in your bloodstream and increase "good" cholesterol. Flavonoids and resveratrol also seem to prevent platelets from sticking together, which can prevent heart attack or stroke folding the risk of clot formation.

Coronary artery disease is caused by a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries that supply the blood to the heart. If the arteries get partially blocked the heart cannot get enough oxygen and the result is pain. Many studies suggested that moderate amount of red wine (one to two glasses a day) lowers the risk of heart attack for middle aged people by 30 to 50 percent. It was also concluded that red wine may prevent additional heart attacks if you have already suffered from one.

The cholesterol that blocks these arteries is referred to as the “bad” cholesterol. This is cleared from the blood by the “good” cholesterol. Moderate wine consumption produces a better balance of these two types of cholesterol. Also, wine has an anti-coagulation effect which makes the blood less likely to clot. Wine can have a powerful effect and increase the "good" HDL cholesterol by twenty percent if used moderately long with a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Higher HDL levels are linked to lower risks of heart disease.

Boosting Your Brain

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated more than 12,000 women who were aged from 70 to 81 years of age. Moderate drinkers scored better than women who did not drink on tests of mental function. Another recent study shows a boost in brain power for women who enjoy a little alcohol. Researchers found a boost in brainpower with one drink a day. Moderate drinkers had a 23% reduced risk of mental decline compared with nondrinkers.

Wine and Digestion

Wine aids in the production and flow of gastric juices. This helps digestion by breaking down the food in the stomach quickly and more effectively. For many people, after the age of 50, our bodies do not produce enough hydrochloric acid that is needed for digestion. Because of this, many doctors have suggested a glass or two of wine with a meal to assist in digestion.

Wine and Calories

Wine does contains calories, and calories can make you overweight if you do not burn them up. A glass of white or red wine contains around 100 calories. Sweeter wines that contain residual sugar as well as alcohol have more calories.

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