One glass of red wine

The next time you’re deciding whether to uncork a bottle, let science help make up your mind. Many studies support the benefits of wine (in moderation, of course), and they include more than just social lubricant and easy hostess gift. Vino has more powerful health properties than you think, so pour a glass and read up on why it’s worth indulging every day.

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1. Your heart will thank you.

A glass of red wine (5 ounces) a day has long been praised as good for your ticker. But newer research has also linked moderate alcohol consumption — including white wine and other beverages — to lower risk of heart failure and improved blood pressure. That’s due to the plant-antioxidant compounds called flavonoids present in the skins of grapes used to make wine.

2. It can sharpen your mind.

Though it seems counterintuitive, regular alcohol drinkers are at lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. The flavanols in wine protect your body’s cells that support healthy blood vessels — a key physiological benefit that can improve blood flow to the brain and prevent harmful plaque from developing.

3. You’ll live a little longer.

Blame it on the relaxation effects of imbibing. Long-term population studies have linked moderate alcohol drinking to longer life! Plus, people who drink in moderation tend to have other healthy behaviors (think: diets packed with plant-based foods and low in saturated fats or regular exercise). So pair your glass with a healthy meal — and hit the gym tomorrow.

4. It’ll benefit your waistline.

While vino will set you back about 120 to 150 calories per 5-ounce glass, moderate alcohol drinkers are less likely to be obese (or suffer from obesity-related diseases like type 2 diabetes) those who don’t. When you’re planning to relax with a glass, remember: Wine, like any healthy food, can still add up quickly, so pour into a measuring cup first if you’re counting calories.

5. Raising a glass lifts your spirits.

Research has linked moderate alcohol intake to a better mood (and you thought that was just hearsay!) A 2014 study showed that people who had a glass of wine in an unpleasant environment experienced the same level of mood improvement as people who teetotaled in a more pleasant environment. So next time you’re in a funk, drink up.

WATCH: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Wine

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

Can a Glass of Wine Benefit Your Health?

There are several benefits to drinking a glass of wine.

Rich in antioxidants

There are many antioxidant-rich foods and beverages, and wine is one of them.

Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cellular damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a condition caused by an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable molecules called free radicals, which can damage your cells (2).

Grapes have high levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (3).

Because red wine grapes are higher in antioxidants than white grape varieties, drinking red wine may increase your blood antioxidant levels to a greater extent than drinking white (4).

In fact, one 2-week study in 40 adults found that consuming 13.5 ounces (400 ml) of red wine daily increased antioxidant status (2).

Higher antioxidant status is associated with a decreased risk of disease. For example, drinking red wine has been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which are associated with oxidative stress (3).

May help combat inflammation

Wine contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Chronic inflammation is harmful and may increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and certain cancers. Therefore, it’s best to prevent this type of inflammation as much as possible (5).

Chronic inflammation can be reduced through diet, stress reduction, and exercise.

Many foods have the power to reduce inflammation, and wine is thought to be one of them.

Studies suggest that a compound called resveratrol in wine has anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit health (5, 6).

One study in 4,461 adults demonstrated that moderate consumption of wine was linked to a reduced inflammatory response (7).

Participants in this study self-reported their alcohol intake. Those who consumed up to 1.4 ounces (40 grams) of alcohol per day experienced less inflammation than those who didn’t drink (7).

What’s more, in a study including 2,900 women, those who consumed a glass of wine daily had significantly reduced inflammatory markers compared with women who abstained from alcohol (8).

On the other hand, other research has found red wine to have a less dramatic effect.

A study in 87 adults of an average age of 50 found that drinking 5 ounces (150 ml) of red wine daily caused only slight reductions in inflammatory markers compared with abstaining from alcohol (9).

Although the research is promising, more studies are needed to better understand the anti-inflammatory benefits of wine.

May benefit heart health

Studies show that individuals who consume moderate amounts of wine have reduced rates of heart disease (10).

Researchers believe that red wine’s high concentration of polyphenol antioxidants can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and metabolic diseases (11).

Some research suggests that drinking red wine may reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart disease (12).

Yet, other studies suggest that a daily glass of red wine does not reduce blood pressure in people with normal blood pressure or those who already have heart disease (13).

What’s more, wine may interact with medication that lowers blood pressure (14).

Furthermore, excessive alcohol consumption may have negative effects on heart health, including increased blood pressure and a higher risk of developing heart disease (15).

Whether moderate wine intake benefits heart health is up for debate as research in this area continues (16).

Other benefits

Drinking wine in moderation may also have other benefits:

  • May benefit mental health. An occasional glass of wine may reduce the risk of depression. However, excessive drinking can have the opposite effect, putting you at a higher risk of this condition (17, 18).
  • May promote longevity. Studies have found that drinking moderate amounts of wine as part of a healthy diet may increase longevity thanks to wine’s high antioxidant content (19, 20, 21).
  • May promote healthy gut bacteria. Recent studies have even suggested that red wine may promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which may improve metabolic syndrome markers in people with obesity (21, 22).

summary

Some research suggests that drinking wine in moderation provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that may improve your gut bacteria and boost your heart health, mental health, and longevity. However, most research has focused on red wine.

Is red wine good for you?

Share on PinterestRed wine contains resveratrol, which appears to have a number of health benefits.

Research indicates that red wine can boost a range of health factors.

Several of these are based on the presence of resveratrol, a compound that is believed to offer a number of benefits.

Resveratrol is a compound that some plants produce to fight off bacteria and fungi, and to protect against ultraviolet (UV) irradiation.

The resveratrol in wine comes from the skins of red grapes. Blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts are also sources of resveratrol, and it is available in supplement form.

Evidence suggests that in some forms, resveratrol may boost cardiovascular health, protect against cancer, and help treat acne, among others.

Red wine contains resveratrol, but it may not be the best way to consume it, because the intake of alcohol brings it own risks.

1. Gut microbiome and cardiovascular health

Resveratrol may improve heart health in various ways. In 2016, researchers suggested that it could reduce the risk of heart disease through the way it affects the gut microbiome.

2. Raising levels of omega-3 fatty acids

A little alcoholic drink, and especially red wine, appears to boost levels of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells.

Omega-3 fatty acids, believed to protect against heart disease, are usually derived from eating fish.

Researchers found that, in 1,604 adult participants, regular, moderate wine drinking was linked to higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Heart health and type-2 diabetes

One study has shown that drinking a glass of red wine with dinner “modestly decreases cardiometabolic risk” in people with type-2 diabetes, and that a moderate intake of red wine is safe.

The scientists believe that the ethanol in wine plays a key role in metabolizing glucose, and that the nonalcoholic ingredients may also contribute. They call for more research to confirm the findings.

Anyone with diabetes should check with their doctor before consuming alcohol.

4. Healthy blood vessels and blood pressure

In 2006, scientists from the United Kingdom (U.K.) found that procyanidins, compounds commonly found in red wine, help keep the blood vessels healthy. Traditional production methods appear to be most effective in extracting the compounds, leading to higher levels of procyanidins in the wine.

Many people find an alcoholic drink relaxes them, but results published in 2012 indicate that nonalcoholic red wine, too, can reduce blood pressure. This could be a more healthful option.

5. Brain damage after stroke

Resveratrol may protect the brain from stroke damage, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Results from tests on mice showed that resveratrol increased levels of heme oxygenase, an enzyme known to protect nerve cells in the brain from damage. When a stroke occurs, the brain is ready to protect itself because of higher enzyme levels.

It remains unclear whether the health benefits are due to the resveratrol itself, or if the alcohol in the wine is needed to concentrate the levels of the compound.

6. Preventing vision loss

Resveratrol in red wine may help prevent vision loss caused by out-of-control blood vessel growth in the eye, according to findings published in 2010.

Diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration are leading causes of blindness among Americans aged 50 years and above. This is due to an overgrowth of blood vessels in the eye, known as angiogenesis.

If further research confirms findings, the scientists believe it could help not only people with vision problems due to diabetes, but those with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and other causes of retinal detachment.

7. Preventing colon cancer

Scientists in the U.K. reported in 2015 that consuming low doses of resveratrol can reduce the size of bowel tumors by approximately 50 percent. Higher doses reduced tumor size by 25 percent.

However, other experts point out that alcohol is strongly linked to different types of cancer, and that any benefit from resveratrol is likely to be outweighed by the negative effects of the alcohol.

8. Preventing breast cancer

Regular consumption of most alcoholic drinks increases the risk of breast cancer. However, thanks to chemicals in the seeds and skins of red grapes, women who drink red wine in moderation may be spared this risk.

Share on PinterestRed grapes and nonalcoholic red wine also offer the benefits of resveratrol.

Normally, alcohol increases a woman’s estrogen levels, and this encourages the growth of cancer cells. However, the aromatase inhibitors (AIs) that are present in red wine, and to a lesser extent white wine, reduce estrogen levels and increase testosterone in women approaching menopause.

It is the grape rather than the wine that primarily provides these beneficial compounds, so eating red grapes is more healthful than drinking red wine.

Nevertheless, if a woman is going to choose an alcoholic drink, red wine might be a better option, compared with other beverages.

Scientists have questioned the claims of this study and insist that “alcoholic beverages cause breast cancer independent of beverage type.”

9. Improving lung function and preventing lung cancer

Low doses of red wine, and to a lesser extent white wine, may boost lung function and prevent lung cancer cells from proliferating, according to at least one investigation.

10. Protection from prostate cancer

A study published in 2007 reported that, in men who drink moderate amounts of red wine, the chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is around half that of men who never drink red wine.

The researchers defined moderate drinking as an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week.

Those who drank one glass a week were 6 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who never drank it.

11. Preventing dementia

A team from Loyola University Medical Center found that moderate red wine intake can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

A long-term study of data from 19 nations found a statistically significant lower risk of dementia among regular, moderate red wine drinkers in 14 countries.

Resveratrol, explained the investigators, is key to this benefit. By reducing the stickiness of blood platelets, it helps keep the blood vessels open and flexible, and this promotes a good supply of blood to the brain.

Red and white wines both contain resveratrol, but red wine has more. The skin of red grapes has very high levels of resveratrol. The manufacturing process of red wine, involves prolonged contact with grape skins.

The researchers note: “We don’t recommend that nondrinkers start drinking. But moderate drinking, if it is truly moderate, can be beneficial.”

A 2015 study found that a high dose of resveratrol appeared to stabilize a key biomarker for Alzheimer’s.

The amount needed, however, is far higher than anyone would get from a glass of wine. The participants took a-1 gram (g) supplement by mouth twice a day, equivalent to the amount in 1,000 bottles of wine.

12. Reducing risk of depression

A team of researchers from Spain reported in 2013 that drinking wine may reduce the risk of depression.

A study of data for around 5,500 men and women aged from 55 to 80 years over a 7-year period showed that those who drank between two and seven glasses of wine each week were less likely to receive a diagnosis of depression, even after taking lifestyle factors into consideration.

13. Protecting from severe sunburn

Wine and grape derivatives can help protect the skin from the damaging effects of UV light from the sun, according to scientists from Spain.

The team found that when UV rays make contact with human skin, they activate reactive oxygen species (ROS), which oxidize fats, DNA, and other large molecules. These, in turn, stimulate other enzymes that harm skin cells.

Wine and grapes contain flavonoids. These inhibit the formation of the ROS in skin cells that are exposed to sunlight.

Rather than drinking more wine, however, the researchers suggest incorporating grapes and grape derivatives into sun protection products.

14. Preventing liver disease

Modest wine consumption may cut the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by half in those who are at risk of the condition, compared with never drinking wine.

The finding, published by researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, is controversial. They note that only moderate consumption will bring benefits, and they suggest a maximum of one glass a day for people at risk of coronary heart disease and NAFLD.

Those who regularly and moderately drink beer or liquor, say the scientists, have a four-times higher risk than those who drink red wine.

Anyone who already has hepatitis or any other kind of liver disease should avoid alcohol altogether.

15. Preventing dental cavities

Red wine may help prevent dental cavities by getting rid of bacteria on the teeth, according to research published in 2014, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (ACS).

16. Treating acne

Research has indicated that resveratrol, with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, could help treat acne. The scientists suggest combining it with benzoyl peroxide and applying it directly to the skin, to maximize antibacterial activity.

However, there is no evidence that drinking red wine has the same effect.

Drinking will shorten your life, according to a study that suggests every glass of wine or pint of beer over the daily recommended limit will cut half an hour from the expected lifespan of a 40-year-old.

Those who think a glass of red wine every evening will help keep the heart healthy will be dismayed. The paper, published in the Lancet medical journal, says five standard 175ml glasses of wine or five pints a week is the upper safe limit – about 100g of alcohol, or 12.5 units in total. More than that raises the risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm (a ruptured artery in the chest), heart failure and death.

The risks for a 40-year-old of drinking over the recommended daily limit were comparable to smoking, said one leading scientist. “Above two units a day, the death rates steadily climb,” said David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge.

“The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines has roughly two years’ lower life expectancy, which is around a 20th of their remaining life. This works out at about an hour per day. So it’s as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette.

“Of course, it’s up to individuals whether they think this is worthwhile.”

There is still a small benefit to drinking, which has been much flagged in the past. It does reduce the chance of a non-fatal heart attack. But, said Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study, “this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious – and potentially fatal – cardiovascular diseases.”

The big international study supports the new UK recommended limits of a maximum of 14 units a week for both men and women, which were fiercely contested when introduced by England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, in 2016. Other countries with higher limits should reduce them, it suggests. They include Italy, Portugal and Spain as well as the US, where for men the recommended limit is almost double.

The study included data from nearly 600,000 current drinkers included in 83 studies carried out in 19 countries. About half the participants reported drinking more than 100g per week, and 8.4% drank more than 350g per week. Early deaths rose when more than 100g per week, which is five to six glasses of wine or pints of beer, was consumed.

A 40-year-old who drank up to twice that amount (100 to 200g) cut their life expectancy by six months. Between 200g and 350g a week, they lost one to two years of life, and those who drank more than 350g a week shortened their lives by four to five years.

Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, said smokers lost on average 10 years of life. “However, we think from previous evidence that it is likely that people drinking a lot more than 43 units are likely to lose even more life expectancy, and I would not be surprised if the heaviest drinkers lost as many years of life as a smoker.

“This study makes clear that on balance there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true.”

Spiegelhalter said it was “a massive and very impressive study. It estimates that, compared to those who only drink a little, people who drink at the current UK guidelines suffer no overall harm in terms of death rates, and have 20% fewer heart attacks.”

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, called it “a serious wakeup call for many countries.”

Dr Tony Rao, visiting lecturer in old age psychiatry at King’s College London, said the study “highlights the need to reduce alcohol related harm in baby boomers, an age group currently at highest risk of rising alcohol misuse”. It did not take into account the possibility of mental disorders such as dementia, which could accompany the other health problems drinkers incur.

In a commentary in the Lancet, Profs Jason Connor and Wayne Hall from the University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research in Australia, anticipated that the suggestion of lowering recommended drinking limits will come up against opposition.

“The drinking levels recommended in this study will no doubt be described as implausible and impracticable by the alcohol industry and other opponents of public health warnings on alcohol. Nonetheless, the findings ought to be widely disseminated and they should provoke informed public and professional debate.”

• The headline on this article was amended on 13 April 2018 to clarify that the extra glass of wine applies on a daily basis.

Is Red Wine Really Good for You?

Enjoy unwinding at the end of the day with a glass of wine? While there’s no doubt that drinking wine – or any alcoholic beverage – in excess can adversely affect your health, career, and social relationships, there’s some evidence that moderate consumption of wine may have significant health benefits. Still, some health professionals continue to warn against the dangers of alcohol consumption, making it hard to piece together the real story about wine, your health, and longevity. It appears the jury is still out on whether red wine is really good or bad for you.

Much of the interest in wine and red wine in particular has to do with antioxidants. Known as polyphenols, they are thought to protect your body’s cells and tissues against damage that can lead to the development of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

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The polyphenols in wine primarily come from the colored skins of grapes, so red wine tends to have a greater concentration of polyphenols than white wine, according to Georges Halpern, MD, PhD, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a researcher of the health benefits of wine. “It seems that these substances in higher concentration have a better protective effect on the cardiovascular system and possibly other systems,” Dr. Halpern says.

Heart Health and Red Wine

Over the past 20 years or so, many journals have published studies about how drinking alcohol, particularly red wine, may protect the heart, according to the American Heart Association. So when researchers challenged that notion in a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, they raised some eyebrows. The researchers studied Italians who consumed large amounts of the polyphenol resveratrol and found it did not protect them from developing heart disease or cancer.

Additional Benefits of Red Wine

There is some research showing that wine may have other health benefits, as well, including:

Protecting against certain cancers. A study published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2014 found that resveratrol may prevent head and neck cancer. The resveratrol kills damaged cells that can lead to cancer, the researchers wrote. Another study, published in 2014 in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Food & Function, found that the more polyphenols, particularly resveratrol, in wine, the more the wine protects against colon cancer.

Slowing memory loss. Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine found that resveratrol may help prevent age-related memory decline. They published the findings from their study of rats in “Scientific Reports” in January 2015.

Fighting weight gain. Researchers in Korea found that the compound piceatannol, which is found in red grapes and is similar to resveratrol, can block cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop and grow. Piceatannol could be used as a weapon against weight gain, the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2012.

Protecting against dental disease. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that red wine may kill dangerous bacteria in your mouth that could cause dental diseases, including cavities.

On The Other Hand…

Other research has found that wine consumption is associated with increased risk for:

Certain cancers. A study published in Alcohol and Alcoholism in 2012 found that drinking wine could increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, alcohol consumption also increases the chances of developing mouth, throat, liver, and bowel cancer in some people.

Alcoholism. For some people, drinking wine or other types of alcohol can lead to alcoholism. “Some people become alcoholics very easily,” says Halpern. Getting the condition under control can be very difficult.

While research and the debate continue, the key seems to be moderation. Drink too much and you can damage your body, but in moderation — one glass a day for women and two a day for men — you might enjoy alcohol’s health benefits.

If you prefer not to drink alcohol, the good news is that you can get the same health benefits from wine with significantly lower alcohol levels, Halpern says.

Beth W. Orenstein also contributed to this report.

Drinking red wine is good for you — or maybe not

By Adrian Baranchuk , Bryce Alexander and Sohaib Haseeb December 2, 2017

At the end of a long week, people are opening wine bottles in bars, restaurants and homes around the world, ready to kick back and relax.

This relationship with wine has a long history. The oldest known winery, dating to 4100 B.C., was discovered in 2010 by archaeologists in an Armenian cave. Just recently scientists reported finding jugs that had been used for storing wine from 6000 B.C. Wine was used in ceremonies by the Egyptians, traded by the Phoenicians and honored by the Greek god Dionysus and the Roman god Bacchus. By 2014, humanity was consuming more than 6 billion gallons of wine every year.

So why is wine so popular? Aside from its flavors and capacity to help people relax, wine has gained something of a reputation as a “healthy” alcohol — with researchers noting associations between red wine drinking in France and lower incidence of heart disease.

However, wine drinking is also known to increase risks of serious health issues, including liver cirrhosis, sudden cardiac death, alcoholic cardiomyopathies and cardiac rhythm disorders. Excessive consumption and chronic misuse of alcohol are risk factors contributing to an increase in disease worldwide.

How does the average drinker know what to believe? And how much wine is safe? As medical researchers, we recently published an in-depth analysis of the anatomy of wine. This included analysis of the risks and benefits of consumption, comparisons with other alcoholic beverages and a discussion about wine’s much-publicized health benefits.

Wine and heart disease

Modern scientific intrigue surrounding wine has grown immensely since the 1970s, when large, international studies first reported a link between light to moderate consumption of alcohol and lower rates of ischemic heart disease (IHD) occurrence and associated deaths. IHDs are a group of diseases characterized by a reduced blood flow to the heart, and they account for significant deaths worldwide.

Similar results have been reported individually for wine, specifically red wine. This phenomenon was eventually coined “the French paradox” after two scientists, Serge Renaud and Michel de Lorgil, observed a relatively low risk of IHD-associated mortality in red-wine drinkers despite a consumption of a diet rich in saturated fat (such as that found in some French food).

Does this mean red wine is good for the heart? This is a complex question, and as yet there is no consensus on the answer. More than one factor needs to be considered to explain this situation. Drinking patterns, lifestyle characteristics and dietary intake are all important for individuals to obtain a healthy cardiovascular profile.

The Mediterranean diet has been put forward as one explanation. This diet emphasizes consumption of plant-based foods in addition to the moderate consumption of red wine and has been labeled as beneficial by scientific advisory committees.

In the Mediterranean diet, the low consumption of saturated fat, emphasis on a healthy lifestyle and, more independently, alpha-linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) and red wine, may allow this diet to confer the much researched cardio-protective benefits.

Cholesterol, inflammation

Red wine contains more than 500 chemical substances. One class, called polyphenols, has been widely investigated for imparting the apparent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of red wine.

Alcohol and polyphenols are thought to have several positive health impacts. One is a contribution to an increase in HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” and a decrease in LDL oxidation, or “bad cholesterol.” They also contribute to a decrease in inflammation. They are thought to increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood pressure.

There is no consistent pattern when wine is compared to beer and spirits. Some report wine’s superiority in reducing the risk of IHD and mortality. Others report it for beer and spirits. Others suggest there is no difference. This suggests that alcohol and polyphenols both contribute to explaining the French paradox, in addition to lifestyle factors.

Despite the beneficial effects of wine and alcohol consumption, drinking is still a potential risk factor for atrial fibrillation, the most common “rhythm alteration” of the heart.

What’s the right amount?

In much of the research, adverse effects were increasingly observed with excessive or binge consumption of wine, while low to moderate intakes lowered IHD and mortality risks.

In response, various governing bodies have come forth with guidelines for alcohol consumption. These follow similar patterns but vary remarkably by country and source. And the definition of “one standard drink” used in each guideline is highly variable and discrepant between country borders. This causes great confusion. Readers should be wary of this when interpreting alcohol consumption guidelines.

The World Health Organization recommends low-risk alcohol consumption of no more than two standard drinks per day with at least two non-drinking days during the week. Here, one standard drink is defined as 10 grams of pure ethanol.

The American Heart Association recommends alcohol in moderation — less than or equal to one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Here, one drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or one ounce of 100-proof spirits.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a moderate consumption of alcohol. This equates to up to two standard drinks per day for men and one for women. Here, one standard drink is defined as 14 grams of pure ethanol.

The Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health guidelines recommend low-risk alcohol consumption: up to three drinks per day for men and two for women. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of 5 percent beer, five ounces of 12 percent wine and 1.5 ounces of 40 percent spirits.

Research opportunities

Observational data around alcohol consumption and heart health suggests that a light to moderate intake, in regular amounts, appears to be healthy. However, when mathematical models have been applied to determine causation (an approach known as Mendelian randomization), the results have been mixed.

Some studies have found light to moderate drinking beneficial, while others have reported long-term alcohol consumption to be harmful for the heart.

For doctors, it is quite clear what to recommend to patients when it comes to diet, exercise and smoking. Given the inconsistencies in the findings relating to alcohol, and wine specifically, recommendations for consumption are less obvious.

For wine drinkers, too, definitive answers on wine and health remain elusive. There is, however, immense research potential in this area for the future.

And as all the guidelines say, one or two glasses of red wine at the end of a long week should be just fine.

Baranchuk is a professor of medicine at Queens University in Ontario. Alexander is a medical student there, and Haseeb is an undergraduate student. This article was originally published on theconversation.com.

Fruit and veggies rich in potassium may be key to lowering blood pressure

The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there’s one thing in it that stands out: Wine is good for you.

Although drinking excessively will essentially kill any benefits of alcohol, mild to moderate drinking is shown to have overall health benefits, according to a 2017 study published in the American College of Cardiology.

“This study gave the green light that moderate drinking is good,” said Sharon Orrange, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a practicing physician at the Keck Medicine of USC Beverly Hills facility.

Not only does alcohol decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease, but it also diminishes risk for all causes of death, according to Orrange.

While many see wine as the healthy choice, noting its antioxidant power, research shows benefits of alcohol are pretty equal across the board – whether it’s a shot of liquor, a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. Also, the antioxidants in wine can be overrated.

Antioxidants in wine are so low that it’s a joke.

Daryl Davies

“Antioxidants in wine are so low that it’s a joke,” according to Professor Daryl Davies, a USC neuro-pharmacologist who researches alcohol and drugs of abuse.

While red wine does have antioxidants like resveratrol, which it carries primarily from the grape skins, the amount in a glass isn’t enough to do anything, Davies said. You would have to drink a lot of wine to get a lot of resveratrol, canceling out the benefits.

Red or white?

When it comes to white wine or red wine, it’s not just a personal choice. Red wine tends to have more sulfites, a preservative in wine, and that can irritate folks who suffer from asthma or migraines, Orrange said. They might be better off with a glass of white.

There’s one big “but” that comes into play when talking about the benefits of booze, however: You have to be realistic about how much you’re drinking.

“I think we all underestimate our intake,” Orrange said. “It’s seven drinks a week for women. Men can have two drinks a night.”

And that’s a 5-ounce pour of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof alcohol — perhaps less generous than you pour in the comfort of your kitchen.

Cutting back to only one drink a day can be tough for some of her patients, who sometimes enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with dinner.

“I tell them pick two to three nights during the week — say Monday, Tuesday, Thursday — that I’m not going to drink at all,” she said.

Besides overall health, one of the main reasons Orrange is getting folks to cut back is insomnia.

I would say alcohol is the most commonly used over-the-counter sleep aid.

Sharon Orrange

“I have the discussion about insomnia 15 times a week, three times a day — at least,” she said. “I would say alcohol is the most commonly used over-the-counter sleep aid.”

Many of her patients use a glass of wine to ease into slumber. While it might help them fall asleep, it disrupts the last half of their sleep cycle, diminishing the quality of their sleep, she said.

Benefits versus Alzheimer’s

There are some ways wine stands out, however. A Swedish study that spanned 34 years found that wine protected women against developing Alzheimer’s disease, especially when their only alcohol was wine. It’s unclear why, but researchers opined that it could be due to the higher ethanol in wine or to a generally healthier lifestyle adopted by wine drinkers.

When it comes to why drinking wine and other alcohol can be beneficial, it’s hard to say, Davies said. And keep in mind, these benefits are only possible when alcohol is consumed in moderation. If one overdrinks or binge-drinks, alcohol can have the opposite effect, leading to neurological and memory-related disorders, certain forms of cancer, heart disease and pronounced effects on the liver, Davies said.

Genetics are a component as well. Some folks live to age 100, drinking and smoking every day. There’s some evidence that people with a history of cancer in their families should avoid alcohol, but “we’ve got a long way to go before that science is conclusive,” he said.

Alcohol has a positive impact on high blood pressure and stress, two big health culprits, Davies said, which could be why it’s beneficial beyond just cardiovascular health.

When it comes to the benefits of booze, the reason might be simple, he said: Alcohol is an anxiolytic, meaning it reduces anxiety. Getting in the habit of relaxing and unwinding — with a glass of wine — is good for you.

More stories about: Alzheimer’s Disease, Diet

1. Improve your memory.

Drinking alcohol is typically one of the first things doctors and nutritionists recommend cutting out of your diet when you are wanting to live a healthier lifestyle.

While beer and hard alcohol can have negative effects on your metabolism, liver, and calorie intake, wine actually has many positive health benefits, especially for women.

Wine is made from grapes: red wine made from red and purple grapes, while white wines are typically made from green grapes or grapes not yet ripened.

For the best medical and health benefit for your body, drink a glass of red wine with dinner. This is because the red and purple grapes offer the most nutritional value.

Drinking wine regularly and within moderation can improve your overall health.

Drinking a single glass of wine every day can be great for your wellbeing.

Here are 9 reasons why you should drink wine every day, according to science:

Wine helps prevent blood clots and reduces inflammation in blood vessels.

Both of these symptoms are related to memory loss or cognitive decline.

In a study where elderly participants drank a glass of wine a day and others did not have any, those that drank wine scored higher on memory based quizzes than those who did not have wine.

2. Reduces chances for heart disease.

Because wine prevents blood clotting and reduces inflammation, it also reduces heart disease. It lowers blood pressure and reduces the chances of having a heart attack.

3. Boost your immune system.

Red wine in particular is high in antioxidants that help fend off infections such as: urinary tract infections, bacterial infections in the gut, food poisoning, and ulcers.

It can also help prevent against some kinds of stomach cancers.

4. Reduce risk of ovarian cancer.

Women who drink a glass of wine a day significantly reduce their chances of getting ovarian cancer by up to fifty percent.

Wine, especially red wine, is high in phytoestrogens which have anticancer properties.

These not only help with preventing ovarian cancer, but studies have been conducted on breast cancer prevention as well.

5. Prevent osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a threat to aging people, especially aging women.

Drinking a glass of wine a day will help to strengthen your bones and fight against osteoporosis, or low bone density.

6. Increases estrogen levels.

If you suffer from low estrogen levels, you may have or be at risk for many feminine conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, or hormone related diseases or cancers.

Wine increases your estrogen levels which minimizes the effects of these conditions, or helps to safe guard you from being diagnosed with one.

Low estrogen levels also contribute to weight gain, acne, and aggression. Drinking a glass of wine a day will boost your estrogen levels and help with losing weight, clearing up your skin, and balancing your moods.

7. Aid with menopause.

Since estrogen is directly tied with menopause, drinking a glass of wine a day can help reduce or ease the symptoms caused by the drop in estrogen production.

It will also help prevent ovarian cancer and diabetes—both of which increase in odds of diagnosis after menopause.

Wine helps prevent against insulin resistance in some patients, thus minimizing the chance of a type 2 diabetic diagnosis.

8. Balance blood sugar levels.

Drinking a glass of wine—specifically red wine—at dinner can help your body process its sugar and caloric consumption.

This helps to reduce the chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and lowers inflammation which helps with cholesterol and arthritis.

9. Reduces arthritic pain.

A glass of wine a day can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis pain.

Wine, especially red wine, helps to reduce inflammation and swelling in the body.

This is true for blood vessels, as well as other inflammation caused by arthritis.

Having a single glass of wine at dinner can help ease this pain, but check with your doctor if you are taking any medications to make sure that the combination of a glass of wine won’t have bad side effects when combined with certain medications in your system.

There are many health benefits for having a glass of wine at dinner every day.

Red wine especially is positive for your health because of the grapes that are used during production.

White wine is still good for you, but in a lesser degree than red wine mainly because the skin of the grape is removed in the process and green grapes don’t have as high of levels in antioxidants and phytoestrogens. When drinking alcohol as part of your diet, moderation is key.

While a single (one) glass of wine can have health benefits, more than one can have the opposite effect. It is important to limit yourself so that the wine consumption is positive and doesn’t become harmful.

Are You Drinking Too Much?

If you’re afraid you’re at risk for breast cancer, consider this sobering statistic: Alcohol definitely in-creases the danger. Research published in 1997 in The New England Journal of Medicine, based on a study including more than 250,000 women, found that those who consumed one or more drinks per day had a 30 percent higher chance of dying from breast cancer than teetotalers. Another large study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health further concluded that the risk rises with the amount of alcohol consumed.
Estrogen seems to be the culprit. Studies have shown that alcohol temporarily increases estrogen concentrations in the blood, and elevated estrogen levels are associated with breast cancer. This effect has been shown to be more pronounced among women using estrogen replacement therapy. While additional studies are needed, the message is clear: “Avoiding alcohol is one way a woman can reduce her risk of breast cancer,” says Michael J. Thun, M.D., head of epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society.
Postmenopausal women, however, often have a greater risk of dying from heart disease or stroke than from breast cancer. One drink a day (especially red wine) has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40 percent. The net result is that people who consume a glass of alcohol per day may live longer than nondrinkers. Because every woman must weigh the costs and benefits of drinking based on her own family history, age and risk of disease, it is impossible to make – a blanket statement about how much is too much.
There are, of course, other health consequences to consider. Alcohol is primarily processed in the liver (which puts that organ at the greatest risk), but it can also work its way into the reproductive system, the skin, eyes, bones, breasts, breast milk and the fetus. “Because alcohol is a very small molecule, just slightly bigger than water, it can get inside every cell,” says Sheila Blume, M.D., a psychiatrist who has researched alcohol’s effects on women. “Almost any organ in the body can be affected.” And then there is the troubling, if not life-threatening, matter of weight gain. A four-ounce glass of wine contains about 120 calories, a shot of vodka packs 105, and 12 ounces of beer has 150. You’d think twice about ordering crème brûlée for dessert but nothing of downing three drinks with dinner.

*****

The good news (and by now you need some) is that drinking in and of itself does not lead directly to alcoholism. “Most people who start smoking socially will become addicted, but the same isn’t true of alcohol,” says George E. Vaillant, M.D., author of The Natural History of Alcoholism and director of research in the department of psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hos-pital in Boston. In that sense, drinking is more analogous to food than it is to a drug. Some people feel obese when they gain an inch at the waistline, while others don’t. An individual must determine the right level of consumption for herself.
For most people, experimentation comes in the teens and early twenties. “I was into partying in college, where drinking and socializing went hand in hand,” says Brittany Marr, a 23-year-old from Boulder, Colorado. “Though I had a good time, I was tired and lacked the desire to eat well and exercise. Finally, I cut back and started to feel like myself again.”
Many women feel they can drink less than they used to. “I noticed my inability to recoup. Instead of a few hours to get rid of my hangover, it took a couple of days,” says Robin Stefko, 36, who e-mailed from Marion, Illinois, to tell us that she now alternates drinks with glasses of ice water and no longer wakes up feeling as though she’s been “hit by a semi-truck.” Being able to drink less than before is, in fact, a good sign. People with drinking problems generally develop a higher tolerance for alcohol.

The question

I have a glass of RED wine most nights. Is this okay?

The answer

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Wine can be relaxing and have potential health benefits when taken in moderation. The recommendation for safe drinking levels is one glass of wine a day for women and two glasses a day for men.

The decision to drink wine or any alcohol is a personal choice and will depend upon your general health, any underlying medical conditions or medications you may take and your ability to limit your consumption to just one drink. Remember that any potential benefits are dose dependent and more than one to two drinks per day can have detrimental effects upon health.

Several studies have shown that a small amount of alcohol consumption is correlated with an increase of ‘good’ cholesterol (high density lipoprotein – HDL) which can result in a subsequent decrease in ‘bad’ cholesterol (low density lipoprotein – LDL).

Wine is rich in antioxidants, which may help to protect the lining of blood vessels in the body and the heart. The best known of these antioxidants is resveratrol, which is found in grape skin and seeds.

Resveratrol’s antioxidant properties have been found to repair cells and reduce inflammation, which can decrease atherosclerosis and fatty deposits which are known risk factors for heart disease and stroke. A cautionary note however: studies done on resveratrol have been conducted mainly on animals and further studies need to fully understand the true benefit in humans.

Although there are these potential positive effects of alcohol, overindulgence can negate the benefits. Drinking too much can increase the risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, heart disease, obesity, certain cancers and can increase the risk of impaired driving and accidents. Alcohol can also interact dangerously with commonly used medications, so if you take medications, use caution and check in with your doctor to make sure there are no harmful interactions.

If you have liver disease or are pregnant, avoid alcohol completely.

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For those who do not drink, there is no evidence to suggest that you should start drinking simply for the potential benefits of wine as there are other well studied lifestyle choices that improve health such as a balanced diet, smoking cessation and regular exercise.

For those who already drink a glass of wine a day, this may have good benefit for your health and in general is safe to do so in moderation.

Send family doctor Sheila Wijayasinghe your questions at [email protected] She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Dr. Wijayasinghe.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail’s Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Just how harmful is it to have 1 drink per day?

Many enjoy a glass of wine or beer during dinner, believing that this little alcohol couldn’t possibly affect them. A new study is, however, warning that even one small drink per day can influence our health.

Share on PinterestIt is not safe to have even one glass of wine with your meal, finds a new study.

In August, we covered a large-scale review that drew an unequivocal conclusion: it’s not, in fact, safe to drink any amount of alcohol.

Senior author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou referred to the idea that one or two drinks are safe for health as “a myth.”

She said that her and her colleagues’ research found that any level of drinking is tied to an increased risk of early death, cancer, and cardiovascular events.

Now, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, have discovered even more about just how harmful it can be to have even as little as one drink per day.

The new study focused on the impact of alcohol on light drinkers specifically, so its findings — now published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research — are relevant to a large segment of the population.

“It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there even have been some studies suggesting it can improve health,” says first author Dr. Sarah M. Hartz.

“But now we know that even the lightest daily drinkers have an increased mortality risk,” she cautions.

Even light drinking heightens death risk

The authors of the recent study analyzed data collected from 434,321 participants, aged 18–85. Of these, 340,668 (aged 18–85) were recruited via the National Health Interview Survey, and 93,653 (aged 40–60) provided health information as outpatients at Veterans Health Administration sites.

Dr. Hartz and team found that people who had one or two drinks four or more times weekly had a 20 percent higher risk of premature death, compared with those who drank only three times per week or less often. This increased death risk, the study authors add, remains consistent across all age groups.

“A 20 percent increase in risk of death is a much bigger deal in older people who already are at higher risk,” notes Dr. Hartz.

“Relatively few people die in their 20s, so a 20 percent increase in mortality is small but still significant,” she adds.

“As people age, their risk of death from any cause also increases, so a 20 percent risk increase at age 75 translates into many more deaths than it does at age 25.”

Dr. Sarah M. Hartz

The risks outweigh any potential benefits

One study published earlier this year suggested that people who drink just a little — one drink each day, at most — appear to have lower cardiovascular risk than both people who drink more and people who shun alcohol entirely.

Dr. Hartz and team’s research, however, reveals that the health hazards that even people who drink lightly face outweigh any potential benefits.

When the scientists assessed the risk for heart disease and cancer, they saw that, on the whole, though drinking a little did help protect the heart in some cases, daily consumption — even when light — increased a person’s risk of cancer.

“Consuming one or two drinks about four days per week seemed to protect against cardiovascular disease, but drinking every day eliminated those benefits,” explains Dr. Hartz.

“With regard to cancer risk, any drinking at all was detrimental,” she warns.

However, Dr. Hartz also believes that in the future, health practitioners may want to develop more highly personalized guidelines for their patients.

Therefore, healthcare providers might advise people at risk of developing heart problems to drink on occasion. Conversely, they may encourage those who are at risk of cancer to give up drinking entirely.

“If you tailor medical recommendations to an individual person,” explains Dr. Hartz, “there may be situations under which you would think that occasional drinking potentially could be helpful.”

“But overall,” she reports, “I do think people should no longer consider a glass of wine a day to somehow be healthy.”

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