Is Red Wine Good for You? 11 Little Known Health Benefits of Red Wine
Is red wine good for you? When most people think of alcoholic beverages, they immediately jump to the conclusion that they are bad for your health and that they should be avoided. What if I were to tell you that there is one alcoholic beverage in particular that can actually be very beneficial for your health in a number of ways? Would you be jumping for joy? I know that I was.
The beverage that I’m talking about, ladies and gentlemen, is red wine. Now this doesn’t mean that you can start chugging down bottle after bottle. However, the great thing about red wine is that it has a ton of proven health benefits associated with it when you drink it in moderation.
These aren’t just random claims either. Many of these health benefits are backed by scientific evidence based on countless and countless of medical studies that have been performed over the years. So why not sit back, grab a nice bottle from your wine cooler, and read through the countless health benefits of red wine?
The Miracle Compounds of Red Wine
The health benefits of red wine come from a number of different compounds that are contained within wine.
- Resveratrol – one the primary anti-oxidants that is found in grapes (but also peanuts, chocolate, and others) which has been touted for it’s many health benefits
- Piceatannol – a compound found in red wine that is similar to resveratrol, which is also found in grapes and other fruits.
- Quercetin – naturally occuring compound in grape skin (and therefore red wine) that contributes to the grapes color
So next time you have that glass of red wine at dinner, and when you ask yourself whether red wine is good for you, set some of that guilt aside and take into account these 11 benefits that red wine can have for your health.
1. Inhibits Growth of Fat Cells
Why is it so? Believe it or not, but drinking moderate amounts of red wine can actually help inhibit the growth of fat cells and therefore help you manage your weight. The reason behind this is that a compound called piceatannol, which that is contained in red wine, actually inhibits the development of immature fat cells.
How does it work? Basically, in order for these immature fat cells to mature and grow into actual fat cells, they need to gain access to insulin’s ability to activate genes that carry out further stages of fat cell formation. This process generally takes around 10 days. Piceatannol actually binds to the insulin receptors of these immature fat cells, thereby inhibiting their ability to develop further, and preventing their transformation into fat. That’s a pretty neat little compound if you ask me.
Research: “Red wine, fruit compound could help block fat cell formation” by Purdue University.
2. Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Why is it so? There is another miracle component contained within red wine is resveratrol. This little guy has a bunch of benefits, and one of the main ones is that it’s able to reduce bad cholesterol, and therefore help prevent heart disease.
How does it work? The reason that resveratrol is able to do this is because it’s a powerful anti-oxidant and can prevent low density lipoprotein, or LDL (“bad cholesterol”) from oxidizing. When LDL is exposed to oxidizing substances it can lead to a sequence of events involving your immune system that may eventually lead to the formation of plaque that can constrict your blood vessels. Resveratrol can prevent this reaction from occurring by binding to the LDL in your body before the oxidizing substances reach it. This can lead to much healthier blood vessels.
Research: Study on red wine anti oxidants as published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
3. Controls Blood Sugar
Why is it so? Red wine can also benefit those that suffer from type 2 diabetes. For those of you that are unaware, people that have type 2 diabetes generally experience a rapid rise in blood sugar immediately following a meal. This is because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep those blood sugar levels at normal levels, which is one of the primarily challenges for those suffering with type 2 diabetes.
How does it work? Studies show that red wine is very effective at slowing the passage of glucose through the small intestine into the bloodstream, thereby being able to control blood sugar levels, and potentially preventing a blood sugar spike. Are you convinced yet that red wine really is a miracle drink?
Research: A study by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences showed that a glass of some red wines contain equivalent bio-activity to several daily doses of an anti-diabetes drug.
4. Prevents Age-Related Memory Loss
Why is it so? Resveratrol is back at it again. Not only does this little compound have multiple benefits for your body, it can also help your mind by preventing age-related memory loss. A recent study conducted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine showed that resveratrol can have positive effects on a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is a critical for memory.
How does it work? Cognitive capacity generally tends to decline as we age, but resveratrol may be able to slow or even put a stop to that. In this study which was performed on rats, it showed that not only the spatial learning ability of the rats was maintained but even improved on those that were treated with resveratrol. The scientists say that with further research, resveratrol may even be able to help those that suffer from severe neurogenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Research: A study conducted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine shows that resveratrol prevents age-related memory loss.
5. Prevents and Starves Off Cancer Cells
Why is it so? Yes, that’s right. Red wine has been shown to even help starve off cancer cells that are caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption bombards your genes which can result in cells with DNA damage. These are the ones with the highest likelihood of becoming cancerous.
How does it work? Resveratrol, the super compound contained within red wine, challenges these cells and kills off the ones with the most DNA damage, thereby preventing them to turn into cells that can eventually lead to cancer. Although red wine contains alcohol as well, by limiting your drink to one a day, you won’t consume enough to damage your body, and you can ensure that the benefits of positive chemicals contained within red wine far outweigh any negative effects that the alcohol may have.
Research: A study released by North Carolina’s medical school in Chapel Hill shows that is able to keep cells from turning cancerous.
6. Extends Your Life Through Anti-Aging
Why is it so? The benefits of red wine even go as far as being able to prolong an individual’s life. Ok, these studies weren’t actually performed on humans but on rats, but there is no reason to think why the results would be different on human beings. The evidence boils down to a previous study by Cell Metabolism that was done on rats that showed that when rats ate 1/3 less than they normally do, they live approximately 50% longer than their normal lifespan. The reason behind this is because the lower food intake turns on a set of genes that are major influencers of how long we live, known as the sirtuin genes.
How does it work? How does this relate to wine you may ask. It turns out that the component in red wine, resveratrol, is able to activate the sirtuin genes as well. This, combined with a healthy lifestyle, is said to be a main contributor of the longevity experienced by the people of Ikaria Greece, who live on average 10 years longer than in the rest of Europe and the US.
Research: A study performed by Cell Metabolism showed rats live 50% longerwhen their sirtuin genes are activated.
7. Increases Testosterone Levels
Why is it so? Aside from the much talked about benefits of resveratrol, there is another little compound contained in red wine, called quercetin. This compound can help naturally increase testosterone levels as was found in a recent study published in the Nutrition Journal.
How does it work? The way that it does this is by inhibiting the way that testosterone leaves your body. Normally, testosterone leaves your body through urine as a result of an enzyme called UGT2B17attaching certain molecules to it, thereby enabling it to leave your body. The compound quercetin is able to inhibit this enzyme, thereby elevating the testosterone levels in your blood stream by limiting the amount that exits your body.
Research: A study recently published in the Nutrition Journal shows that quercitin can inhibit the way that testosterone leaves your body.
8. Improves Muscle Strength
Why is it so? Sick of heading to the gym? No worries, just get yourself a nice bottle of wine. Recent research conducted by Jason Dyck at the University of Alberta shows that resveratrol (yes, the miracle compound is at it again) can improve muscle strength as well as heart function. Still in doubt as to whether red wine is good for you?
How does it work? The research showed that “resveratrol showed similar results to what you would see from extensive endurance exercise training”. So instead of trawling on the treadmill or engaging in home fitness for hours on end, you can instead kick back and enjoy yourself a nice glass of pinot noir. All jokes aside, the results were actually shown to be most beneficial when done in combination of a frequent exercise routine.
Research: A study conducted by Jason Dyck at the University of Alberta showed that resveratrol can improve muscle strength.
9. Helps You Prevent the Common Cold
Why is it so? As if all of the above benefits aren’t enough, red wine is also said to help fight off the common cold. Have we finally found the cure to the common cold? Well, not quite, but doctors have discovered that drinking a moderate amount of red wine can help you develop a kind of immunity against the viruses that can trigger a cold.
How does it work? A study conducted in 2002, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that those who drank between 8-14 glasses per week had up to 60% reduced risk of developing a cold versus those that didn’t. It is thought that the high levels of flavonoids in wine are responsible for this as they help by mopping up harmful chemicals that are naturally produced by the body. The only question is, can you actually drink that much wine in a week?
Research: “Intake of Wine, Beer, and Spirits and the Risk of the Clinical Common Cold” by the American Journal of Epidemiology.
10. Improves Your Metabolism
Why is it so? Earlier I discussed how the piceatannol in wine can inhibit the growth of fat cells, but to make things even better, red wine contains another compound which can also help improve your metabolism. This compound is called ellagic acid and it helps boost the metabolism of the fatty acids in liver cells.
How does it work? In a combined study on mice by the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska, the team found that the compound actually didn’t improve the body weight, but rather improved liver function in overweight people by boosting the burning of fat. So if you’re looking for magic bullet to lose weight this isn’t it, but it can significantly improve your liver function, and therefore your metabolism.
Research: Study by the Unversity of Florida and the University of Nebraska shows that ellagic acid helps improve liver function, and therefore metabolism.
11. Helps Fight Cavities
Why is it so? As an experiment, a group of researchers grew cultures of the types of bacteria that result in tooth decay and other dental ailments. They then dipped these cultures into various liquids to determine which would help best killing these bacteria. One of these liquids was red wine, which was consequently also the most effective at getting rid of these bacteria.
How does it work? There are two factors in red wine that contribute to it being effective at fighting tooth decay. The first one is the high level of anti-oxidants that help to kill these bacteria. The second is based on how long the liquid remains on the teeth which is known as ‘substantivity’. The higher the substantivity, the more effective the liquid is at killing bacteria. As you might have noticed, red wine has a high level of substantivity, which can result in it staining your teeth, but consequently also kills the bacteria that can result in cavities. It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether that trade-off is worth it.
Research: A study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry which shows that red wine is effective at fighting the oral bacteria that can result in cavities.