Many GPs now advise their adult patients to drink a glass of red wine daily, because it’s beneficial. If you follow this advice, do you really know why? Don’t just blindly follow your doctor’s counsel. Find out for yourself the real advantages of drinking a glass of wine every day.
A Glass a Day: Do It Right
Provided you do it properly, a wine habit can be good for you. Don’t get too excited, though. There are a couple of things to bear in mind. Firstly, the optimal amount to drink is one glass a day. It can’t just be any old plonk, however. To reap the rewards, you must drink red wine. Lastly, don’t think that you can drink it any time you want. Have your daily glass with dinner or lunch. For most people, dinner is probably the way forward. Your boss may frown on a lunchtime tipple!
You do have science on your side. Several studies have reached conclusions about the benefits of wine and they confirm cardiovascular benefits of red wine for men as well as women. In moderation, it also treats diseases or disorders like diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis. Despite wine’s illustrious history, its advantages have been discovered relatively recently. Now, we know that wine is much more than a conduit for fun or relaxation.
Wine’s Health Benefits
Remember the science bit we mentioned earlier? Here are a few of the proven advantages of drinking a glass of red wine each day. Wine:
- Reduces the risk of certain factors that contribute to premature death. In Europe, studies show that drinking between 22 and 32 millilitres of alcohol a day may have a “protective” effect on health because it prevents many of the causes that can lead to death. In Denmark, France, and England, wine is better than beer or other alcoholic beverages.
- Reduces the effects of cigarette smoking. Remarkably, wine can actually regulate the damage that tobacco causes to blood vessels. How? Wine helps to relax them through a process called vasodilation. What’s more, a bit of vino has positive effects on the endothelium, which is a layer of cells that reduces friction between lymphatic and blood vessels. All of this means that wine also greatly benefits the heart of a smoker.
- Prevents cardiovascular diseases. Red wine renowned for its ability to improve the general condition of the heart – provided it’s consumed regularly in the right quantity, that is. Wine (red, of course!) reduces one’s chances of developing coronary disease by slowing the production of LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ sort) and promoting HDL cholesterol – the ‘good’ stuff.
- Produces blood-thinning and anti-blood clotting effects. Those who drink wine every day – as well as those who drink it sporadically – have lower amounts of fibrinogen protein. This is the protein that leads to the formation of blood clots.
- Can prevent atherosclerosis, a disease caused by the degeneration of arteries. Wine counteracts its symptoms and, in fact, may prevent it. When the blood vessels stay constricted, atherosclerosis occurs. Wine’s alcohol content helps the blood vessels stay healthy because it promotes the formation of nitric oxide, which plays a fundamental role in vascular relaxation.
- Balances blood pressure. Though excessive alcohol consumption causes hypertension, drinking just one 250 ml glass of wine a day has the opposite effect. When drunk with a meal, it lowers the blood pressure of people who suffer from this problem.
- Slows the formation of kidney stones. When you drink red wine daily, you’re reducing your odds of developing kidney stones.
- Prevents Alzheimer’s disease. Research shows that resveratrol (a component of the skin of grapes used to make red wine) produces neuro-protecting effects, which means that Alzheimer’s is less likely to occur.
In brief, here are some of the primary advantages of drinking wine. It:
- Prevents dementia
- Reduces the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis
- Prevents colds and flu
- Reduces the odds of contracting throat cancer
- Helps keep you sharp and mentally alert
- Aids digestion
- Improves the circulation of blood around the body
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Prevents premature ageing of cells associated with memory
- Significantly reduces varicose veins
- Prevents prostate cancer
- Helps the body absorb and assimilate protein
- Improves the condition of the skin
- Helps vision and prevents diseases such as diabetic retinopathy
- Alleviates the pain and discomfort of haemorrhoids
- Protects against allergies due to its antihistamine properties
- Prevents blood clots
So, Why Red Wine?
You may still be wondering why it’s red wine – as opposed to rosé, white or sparkling – that is the only one recommended for health. Well, there are many reasons. Take the time to understand a bit more about this drink. Essentially, it’s made from the juice of red grapes which are picked from the vine during harvest. Bunches can be detached by hand or with scissors, but machinery is sometimes used as well. Certain types of wines are produced and cultivated with strict procedures regarding everything from the planting and care of the vine to the collection, transport and preparation of the wine.
Preparation of the wine involves soaking, compression, fermentation, decantation, filtration and bottling.
Wine is packed with polyphenols, which contribute greatly to the health-improving properties of wine. Derived from grape skins and seeds, polyphenols protect the heart. They do this by eliminating free radicals. The extent of polyphenol’s properties vary according to the type of grape, the amount of sun present during the growing process, the land on which the grapes are grown and the alcohol concentration.
(Images courtesy of Fredrik Rubensson, F Delventhal, Akash Mehra, Dinner Series, Martin Cathrae.)