Ten Surprising Benefits of Red Wine

The benefits of red wine have often been reported, but do they really exist. To me, the question is not so much about whether or not red wine has benefits. I think the evidence is pretty clear that it does. The question is whether or not the benefits cease to exist beyond a particular amount of alcohol consumed. After all, we are all human and as the proverbial saying goes, “We want to have our cake and eat it too.” Or in the case of wine, we want to have all the benefits of red wine without any of the negative consequences. Of course this is a bit idealistic, but there is a middle ground.

Benefits of Red Wine

The benefits of red wine are often linked to its antioxidant effects. So therefore, if we are interested in its antioxidant effects, that means that oxidation, or pro-oxidants are what we are trying to combat. Oxidation is also referred to as inflammation. Though often considered negative, not all inflammation, or oxidation is bad. For example, when you eat a meal, oxidation occurs to help you make energy from the meal. So as an antioxidant, one of the primary benefits of red wine is to keep this oxidation under control.

Benefits of Red Wine

Benefits of Red Wine

Cardiovascular disease has long been one of the conditions most impacted by the benefits of red wine. Red wine through its antioxidants, often called polyphenols, reduces the inflammatory onset that often puts this disease in motion. The benefits of red wine don’t end with inflammation reduction though. It also has the ability to improve the ratio between the LDL and HDL cholesterol, what some often refer to as “bad” and “good” cholesterol, respectively. Likewise, it is also worth mention that red wine supports a moderate reduction in blood pressure, which may be related to both the antioxidants and alcohol. Collectively, red wine appears to halt cardiovascular disease onset, improve cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.

The benefits of red wine are not limited to the cardiovascular system. In fact, they are noted in multiple areas of the body. The immune system is more efficient and suffers less damage when challenged if it has sufficient antioxidants. This is in part because its DNA is protected. These benefits can come from diet, but red wine also shows them. Long term this has the possibility of reducing cancer risk.

Benefits of Red Wine Summary

  1. Protects against cardiovascular disease and reduces blood pressure
  2. Reduces LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol, even if on a cholesterol lowering medication
  3. Increases the resistance to damage against the immune system
  4. Lowers blood inflammatory indicators
  5. Protective against cancer
  6. Protects the red blood cells

Benefits of Red Wine Extract

There are instances when the benefits of red wine are negated by the presence of alcohol. If I state this differently, the benefits of red wine are not coming from the alcohol, but from the antioxidants in it. However, red wine extracts, often containing the potent polyphenols resveratrol and quercetin, can show profound benefit. The benefits of red wine extract include:

  1. Reduces intestinal inflammation
  2. Shuts down the inflammatory cascade associated with some autoimmune conditions
  3. May prevent or delay the progression of intestinal diseases
  4. Possible prevention and therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease

When do you Lose the Benefits of Red Wine

If you are drinking wine, then you are also consuming alcohol. This is not without consequence. In fact, alcohol increases oxidation. This effect is more pronounced when drinking away from a meal. So I told you early on that there was a way to get the benefits of red wine and consume it without it being a problem. The obvious part is to consume a reasonable amount of 1-2 drinks. The less obvious way to get the benefits of red wine is to consume it with a meal. It appears that the oxidation created from a meal is negated when consuming red wine. More available antioxidants equal less oxidation which results in less chronic disease and slower aging.

Again, you can go too far. In fact, many of the benefits of red wine are completely lost when drinking more than 1-2 drinks per day. Actually it is worse than that. Not only do you lose the benefits, but you also begin to create problems. For example, cardiovascular disease risk increases in those that consume a higher amount of alcohol.

Get the Benefits of Red Wine without the Red Wine

Given some of the inherent risks associated with alcohol consumption, it is not generally recommended that someone who abstains from drinking start drinking to derive the health benefits. Rather the use of red wine extracts is a suitable alternative. After all, it is the antioxidants in the red wine that are responsible for the benefits of red wine, not the alcohol. Fortunately most of these antioxidants can be found in a supplemental form now. The use of a combination of these antioxidants is often best as that is how they are derived in nature, but even when studied separately, they show profound benefit. Lastly, don’t forget that while antioxidants can be found from red wine and its extracts, a diet rich in colorful plants like the Paleo Diet is the best starting point to enhance your antioxidant abilities and reduce inflammation.

 

References:

Atherosclerosis. 2010 Feb;208(2):297-304. Wine and oxidative stress: up-to-date evidence of the effects of moderate wine consumption on oxidative damage in humans.

Food Funct. 2013 Feb 26;4(3):373-83. Intestinal anti-inflammatory activity of red wine extract: unveiling the mechanisms in colonic epithelial cells.

Redox Biol. 2014 Jun 18;2:795-802. Wine consumption and intestinal redox homeostasis.

J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(2):135-41. Red wine consumption is associated with fecal microbiota and malondialdehyde in a human population.

Nutr J. 2013 Nov 15;12(1):147. A daily glass of red wine associated with lifestyle changes independently improves blood lipids in patients with carotid arteriosclerosis: results from a randomized controlled trial.

J Nutr Biochem. 2000 Feb;11(2):114-9. Antioxidant effect of red wine polyphenols on red blood cells.

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;54(11):1515-20. Antihypertensive, vasodilator and antioxidant effects of a vinifera grape skin extract.

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