Is Wine Healthy or Not?

For over a decade, wine has been a hot topic when it comes to its health benefits or the lack thereof. Wine is an essential beverage in many cultures and has even been used as a medicine in some cultures. 

But there are some changes in the industry in the past few years. After 24 years of continuous growth in wine consumption, since 2018, there has been a reduction in use in many markets around the world. 

Experts are suggesting that this is due to a number of reasons. These reasons include the aging Boomer generation, which is now drinking less wine because of health reasons. The millennials who are not adopting wine as a preferred beverage but instead going for other substitute products, such as cider, cannabis, boutique beers, and spirits.  – But most importantly, there is a growing focus on healthy food and less alcohol.

Some research articles state that a glass of wine (most notably red wine) IS an integral part of a healthy diet. But is this true?

In this article, we’ll look at the science and determine whether wine is healthy or not.

So What Does the Science Say?

The debate is still ongoing. Some studies prove that drinking small quantities of wine (and alcohol in general) can decrease your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even early death. [1] [2] Other studies say that there are no health benefits from drinking small quantities of wine and alcohol in general. [3]

The one thing that is agreed upon is that drinking, wine or any other alcohol, more than the recommended dose, is unhealthy and leads to a higher risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and higher blood pressure. 

Studies on the Health Benefits (Or the Lack of Benefits) of Wine:

Red wine contains the most antioxidants, which are linked to many health benefits. Grapes are rich in antioxidants, with the two most prominent antioxidants being resveratrol and proanthocyanidins. [4] These two antioxidants are connected to most of the health benefits that are commonly associated with wine:

Proanthocyanidins can reduce oxidative damage to the body. This effect can also help prevent cancer and heart disease. [5] [6]

Resveratrol has been linked to health benefits, including reduced blood clotting and inflammation, as well as reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. [7] [8]

Additionally, several studies clearly show that small amounts of red wine are healthy. Especially when you compare it to small amounts of other alcoholic beverages. [9]

Some studies even say that moderate wine consumption is especially beneficial for the elderly. [10]

According to some studies, it seems that in old age, the right thing to do is start drinking wine. But is this advice sound?

Drinking alcohol is not at or near the top of the list of ways to reduce any of the diseases that alcohol consumption is said to minimize the risk. Drinking wine comes well after smoking avoidance, following a healthy diet and physical activity. 

As for the antioxidants in wine, as I mentioned, these can be found in grapes that are consumed with skin and seeds.

However, the promotion of general abstinence from drinking wine or any alcoholic drink is not necessary. Just as advising the entire population to drink wine or alcohol, whether lightly or moderately, is also not necessary except in the case of heavy drinking, which carries significant health problems. Therefore, any medical advice that encourages drinking is irresponsible.

The Bottom Line

All in all, studies show that wine can be beneficial to health when consumed in reasonable amounts, which is: 

  • For women, up to one and a half glasses of wine per day, 
  • For men, up to two drinks per day 

Scientific knowledge offers an insufficient basis for urging a person who prefers another beverage to switch to wine or alcohol. So if you abstain from alcohol, there is no reason to drink for health purposes only. You can still be as healthy as someone drinking wine is you consume the right foods that are rich in antioxidants and other nourishing nutrients.

All heavier drinkers should reduce intake or abstain from drinking completely if unable to control themselves.

And, of course, medication-alcohol interactions should be watched.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References:

  • [1] O’Keefe JH, Bhatti SK, Bajwa A, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ (March 2014). “Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy”. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 89 (3): 382–93. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.11.005
  • [2] Shen J, Wilmot KA, Ghasemzadeh N, Molloy DL, Burkman G, Mekonnen G, Gongora MC, Quyyumi AA, Sperling LS (2015). “Mediterranean Dietary Patterns and Cardiovascular Health”. Annual Review of Nutrition. 35: 425–49. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-011215-025104
  • [3] Stockwell T, Zhao J, Panwar S, Roemer A, Naimi T, Chikritzhs T (March 2016). “Do “Moderate” Drinkers Have Reduced Mortality Risk? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Alcohol Consumption and All-Cause Mortality”. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 77 (2): 185–98. doi:10.15288/jsad.2016.77.185
  • [4] Bertelli AA, Das DK. Grapes, wines, resveratrol, and heart health. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2009 Dec;54(6):468-76. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181bfaff3
  • [5] Cos P, De Bruyne T, Hermans N, Apers S, Berghe DV, Vlietinck AJ. Proanthocyanidins in health care: current and new trends. Curr Med Chem. 2004 May;11(10):1345-59.
  • [6] Nandakumar V1, Singh T, Katiyar SK. Multi-targeted prevention and therapy of cancer by proanthocyanidins. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):378-87. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.03.049
  • [7] Das DK, Mukherjee S, Ray D. Erratum to: resveratrol and red wine, healthy heart and longevity. Heart Fail Rev. 2011 Jul;16(4):425-35. doi: 10.1007/s10741-011-9234-6
  • [8] Brown L, Kroon PA, Das DK, Das S, Tosaki A, Chan V, Singer MV, Feick P. The biological responses to resveratrol and other polyphenols from alcoholic beverages. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Sep;33(9):1513-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.00989.x
  • [9] Micallef M, Lexis L, Lewandowski P. Red wine consumption increases antioxidant status and decreases oxidative stress in the circulation of both young and old humans. Nutr J. 2007 Sep 24;6:27. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-6-27
  • [10] Grønbaek M. Factors influencing the relation between alcohol and mortality–with focus on wine. J Intern Med. 2001 Oct;250(4):291-308.