Author: Pat Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
I like red wine. It is a traditional drink that people have enjoyed for centuries. It offers health benefits in addition to delicious flavors. Physicians have recommended that patients with heart disease drink red wine for at least two hundred years.
The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. It includes regular consumption of red wine.
Red wine contains a natural compound called resveratrol. The beverage is a rich source of plant pigments called flavenoids as well. Red wine is an antioxidant dense drink.
So what do these plant compounds in red wine do for the human body?
Resveratrol helps to reduce levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol. By having less LDL cholesterol, blood vessels are more flexible. Blood pressure is lowered. Less stress is placed upon the heart. Heart disease is prevented. LDL cholesterol is sticky; it sometimes is involved in the formation of dangerous blood clots. Lower LDL levels mean less risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots lodging in the lungs causing serious illness or death. Resveratrol also prevents damage to the blood vessels themselves.
Inflammation is reduced when red wine is consumed. Inflammation is a risk factor for several serious illnesses including heart attack and cancer.
Resveratrol from red wine may enhance release of insulin and improve the body’s ability to metabolize glucose effectively. This can result in reduced blood sugar levels among diabetics and those with pre-diabetes.
Some studies indicate that red wine may enhance weight loss.
People with Alzheimer’s dementia have plaque formation of the brain which inhibits communication within the brain. Resveratrol helps to prevent the formation of plaque, hence may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants and flavenoids contained in red wine improve immune system health. Resistance against common illnesses such as colds is improved. Much is still unknown about how the immune system works. As studies continue, scientists are finding that immune system wellness is implicated in the prevention of major illnesses.
Antioxidants reduce the formation of free radicals. Free radicals promote aging. Drinking red wine may inhibit the aging process. Red wine provides protection against age related diseases such as osteoporosis.
Red wine can also help to prevent tooth decay.
Antioxidants in red wine play a role in the prevention of breast and other cancers. There is a compound in red wine that is especially beneficial in the prevention of lung cancer. Cancer cells are actually destroyed, in a test tube, by substances found in red wine.
Red wine can be a delicious addition to a healthy adult diet. Be sure to consume red wine in moderation. Red wine is much more beneficial than white wine. Beer and “hard” liquor do not contain the same phytochemicals or offer the same healing properties as red wine. Unsweetened grape juice contains several of the same benefits if you prefer a non-alcoholic beverage.