It’s Ladies Night Out and clink, “Cheers to keeping our hearts healthy!” But is this true?
The French Paradox became a popular theory in the 1980s and continues today. It refers to the idea that the French, who enjoy drinking wine, have relatively low rates of heart disease even though they enjoy rich, fatty foods like cheese. This spurred the study of polyphenols, found in red and purple grape skin and other fruits, vegetables, and nuts, to better understand whether it is protective against heart disease. Observational research indicates that moderate consumption of red wine is associated with health benefits, including a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes. However, some argue that those who enjoy red wine are also enjoying a Mediterranean diet or other healthy lifestyle practices associated with lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The science behind wine and its impact on health isn’t exactly clear and may not apply to all people.
Wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, unlike beer and liquor. One study suggests red wine has six times more resveratrol than white wine. White wine has much less because the grapes are fermented without skins. Resveratrol mostly found in red wine, grapes, some berries, and peanuts are known for its anti-cancer, anti-aging, and heart-healthy benefits. Malbec grapes have the thickest skin, making malbec wine the highest in resveratrol. Other red wines containing high levels of this antioxidant are Petite Sirah, St. Laurent, and Pinot Noir.
Unlike fresh grapes, red wine does not contain any fiber. The estimated glycemic load of wine is zero. There is not much nutritional value in white and red table wine according to the USDA:
|White wine||Red wine|
|Sodium||7.4 mg||5.9 mg|
|Carbohydrates||3.8 g||3.8 g|
|Sugars||1.4 g||0.9 g|
|Fiber, Protein, Fat||0||0|
A Mediterranean diet that includes red wine might help prevent disease and promote longer life
Resveratrol is a flavonoid that helps the body produce more nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessel relaxation and lowers blood pressure. It also neutralizes free oxygen radicals and helps to prevent blood clots.
Studies also support consuming a moderate amount of red wine to aid in controlling Type 2 diabetes. A long-term observational study showed people with diabetes who followed a Mediterranean diet and consumed a glass of red wine daily had a lower cardiometabolic risk. Moderate consumption of wine (5-15 ounces daily) may also lower the risk of depression, but the keyword here is “ moderation”. Heavy drinking increases the risk of depression.
A 2020 study found that a diet including cheese, red wine, and lamb may improve cognitive performance, curbing an increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Study participants who changed their dietary regimens showed a decreased chance of cognitive decline. Other studies showed a Mediterranean diet that includes red wine might help prevent disease and promote longer life.
Wine can cause increased DHEA levels in the bloodstream and bring on hot flushes.
During menopause, some women experience feeling hot and sweaty while enjoying a glass of wine, but before menopause, this wasn’t a problem. Wine can cause increased DHEA levels in the bloodstream and bring on hot flushes. Alcohol tolerance tends to be lower during the menopause transition and even further reduced post-menopause.
While drinking wine might provide some benefits, there are significant consequences to drinking too much. If you are a moderate drinker, don’t rely on wine to keep you healthy. Practice other healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as eating a nutritious diet, exercising, practicing stress relief techniques, and getting adequate sleep. People who are pregnant are advised to abstain from drinking alcohol, as it can cause serious health problems for the developing baby.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing if drinking wine during the menopause transition, as wine can bring on hot flashes. If you don’t drink wine, there’s no reason to start. Moderate drinking is defined as one drink per day for women and one to two drinks a day for men. Remember, the studies supporting wine for its health benefits were based on studying subjects who enjoyed a Mediterranean diet along with other healthy lifestyle behaviors. Cheers!