What Are the Health Benefits of Wine?

Many have asked the empty bottle of wine if it knew the secret of everlasting life. Of course, those who asked may have been in a drunken stupor, but it turns out that the question may have not been entirely misplaced.

Several health studies done over the past few decades have shown the advantages and disadvantages of moderate wine consumption, what the American Heart Association defines as one to two four-ounce glasses a day for men and one for women.

Some sources the benefits to drinking wine as:

  • Prolonged life. A Finnish study done on 2,468 men over 29 years concluded wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than drinkers of beer or other alcoholic beverages(1). Some studies have shown that an organic compound, resveratrol, found in grapes and nuts has helped prolonged animal and human life. This compound is found in wine, particularly red wine(2).
  • Healthy heart life. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health said that moderate drinking can lead to a lower chance of heart attack, clot-caused stroke, and more cardiovascular conditions in men and women by 20 to 40 percent(4).
  • Discouraged chance of type two diabetes. A study done in a journal posted on the Diabetes Care website in 2005, a study showed that moderate drinkers had a 30 percent less chance of getting type two diabetes than did heavy drinkers and non drinkers(5). However, some sources say to caution drinking too much wine with diabetes because of the amount of sugar in it.
  • Less chance of stroke. A study of 3,176 individuals that appeared in the National Center for Biotechnology Journal in 2006 showed that moderate drinkers had a reduced chance of having a stroke caused by clots.
  • Help with exercise. Fitness Magazine reported in 2015 that reveratrol may significantly increase a person’s resistance to muscle fatigue(9).

However, some sources say that wine does not conclusively show the health benefits some claim:

  • The studies may not be entirely foolproof. Wine possesses antioxidents, lipoprotein, and the “good cholesterol,” which all contribute to reducing the chance of heart disease and attack. However, the studies are varied when it comes to how helpful these attributes may be to humans, as most studies done were on animals, and the Mayo Clinic said that it would take great amounts of wine to accrue some of the same benefits found in animals. Some investigations were actually accused of manipulation and fraud, like a Harvard professor who recently retired because of evidence of fraud in several of his studies(8,9).
  • Some benefits can only be reaped through heavy drinking. “To reap some of the benefits of red wine, you have to drink a lot, and heavy drinking comes with a ton of downsides, like an increased risk of breast cancer,” said Lauren Mazzo in an article for Shape(6).
  • Daily dosage may lead to addiction, and heavy drinking is bad. Both the Shape article and the Harvard study warn of the issues with heavy drinking(4, 6). Becoming addicted to alcohol will increase a person’s intake of sugar(6), and heavy drinking can actually damage the things that moderate drinking helps, like heart health(7).

The advantages and disadvantages of alcohol are greatly debated and will continue to be debated until more studies are done on humans.

“It’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison,” said the Harvard study. “The difference lies mostly in the dose. Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries.”

So, take the advice with a grain of salt, and perhaps follow the “everything in moderation” adage. Happy drinking!

Sources:

  1. http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/62/2/213
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-discover-how-red-wine-miracle-ingredient-resveratrol-helps-us-stay-young-9940742.html
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/
  5. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/3/719
  6. http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/definitive-truth-about-wine-and-its-health-benefits
  7. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body
  8. http://www.shape.com/blogs/shape-your-life/some-red-wines-health-benefits-under-investigation
  9. http://archive.boston.com/whitecoatnotes/2012/09/05/harvard-professor-who-resigned-fabricated-manipulated-data-says/UvCmT8yCcmydpDoEkIRhGP/story.html
  10. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/mind-body/supplements/weight-loss/resveratrol-the-new-weight-loss-supplement/?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=postplanner&utm_source=facebook.com

Story by Grace Baldwin