Keeping up with our “Friend or Foe” theme, it’s been suggested to me that there ought to be an article on wine and its consequences for your health…
Anyone who keeps up with nutritional news will be well aware of the heap of research that’s gone into wine health benefits. For those of you scratching your heads over the conflicting and competing studies and expert opinions, here is a brief summary.
The interest in wine was sparked by the realisation that the French were consuming a diet typically high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar, and yet didn’t have the same health problems as other nations with similarly poor diets. The idea that the high consumption of wine in France might be giving the French special protection against heart disease, cancer, and high mortality popped into the minds of a couple of scientists, and marked the starting point of a high volume of research.
The health benefits that have been uncovered have really stacked up – check them out:
It Lowers Your Cholesterol
Studies have shown that the alcohol in wine, beer, and spirits can help lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, and increase your ‘good’ cholesterol levels by 20%. This in turn helps your body avoid heart disease, keeping your cardiovascular system running smoothly.
It Makes you Smarter
A study that looked at over 12 000 women aged 70-81 found that the moderate drinkers under observation scored higher on mental function tests than the nondrinkers. The women who drank around one glass a day were 23% less likely to experience mental decline than their peers.
It Makes you Happier
A study conducted in Spain on more than 5000 people between 55 and 80 found that those who drank two to seven glasses on a wine weekly had a significantly reduced risk of being diagnosed with depression.
It Prevents Cancer
The great news is that moderate red wine consumption has been shown to reduce the rate of cancerous tumors in the bowel by 50%. So halve the risk of colon cancer with a glass of red per day! For women, alcohol consumption has been linked with higher rates of breast cancer. However, the nutrients in red grapes provide some protection against the disease. So if you were already having a drink, consider red wine to counteract the negative effects of alcohol. Or if you prefer – just eat some red grapes!
For men, red wine can halve the risk of prostate cancer if you take two to seven glasses per week.
It Prevents Sunburn
This one seems a little bit strange, but the nutrients in wine and grapes inhibit the enzymes that damage your skin after being activated by UV light. I wouldn’t advise forgetting the slip, slop, slap routine in favour of red wine consumption, but a bit of both may just be the best strategy.
It Keeps your Eyes Healthy
By keeping your blood vessels healthy, red wine keeps your eyes healthy. The major eye diseases and causes of blindness in older people occur because of blood vessel overgrowth in your eyes, so to help avoid this root cause keep your red wine drinking levels moderate, and also consume grapes and blueberries.
The list really goes on for red wine’s health benefits: the prevention of liver disease, type 2 diabetes, increased lung function, and it’s ability to boost omega-3 levels in the bloodstream.
We all know that moderation is the key to good health, and none of these scientific studies recommend drinking more than seven glasses of red wine a week, nor do they recommend waiting until Saturday night and drinking a whole bottle all at once. Some research even indicates that you can reap the health benefits with as little as one glass of red per week.
So the advice is still drink hardly anything except water, get regular exercise, and eat a healthy diet.