Heart Health and Red Wine

Wine has been a favored drink of many since Greece was still an empire. Wine has been a fixture throughout history, so it’s important to understand why wine is so beloved.

The significance of Jesus turning water to wine may be lost on many. When this miracle was performed, water was often undrinkable. In 2017, we’ve learned to purify and clean water en masse. However, this wasn’t always the case. Long ago, water was often pulled straight from a river or pond, and drinking it could cause a host of health problems. Instead, the most common way to quench thirst was with wine.

2000 years later, we don’t have the same issue with water. Now that we can pour potable water from at least two sinks in almost every house, wine has fallen under some scrutiny. While we may still pour some around a dinner table, we’d probably turn cold if someone did the same on their lunch break.

Wine, like any alcoholic beverage, has it’s problems. Addiction, depression and alcoholic hepatitis are things we are acutely aware of. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15.1 million people in the United States are affected by alcoholism. While 6.7% of those affected receive treatment, other sources have quoted an even higher number. Alcohol also accounts for 88,000 deaths in the United States each year, putting it third (behind tobacco and dietary issues) in preventable causes of death. The Center for Disease Control reports 28 deaths every day related to drinking and driving. Other issues are being reported now that we may not even be aware of. Did you know alcohol increases your risk of melanoma? Despite these alarming facts, it remains possible that wine, when consumed sparsely and in moderation, may be good for you.

The health benefits of wine

Various studies have shown that wines have a myriad of health benefits. A Medical News Today article posted in September of this year scoured through studies to show readers some of the hidden side effects of a glass. Some of these are not specific to wine, but alcohol in general. For example, a glass of any alcohol will boost the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells. Most commonly added to our diet by eating fish, omega-3 fatty acids are believed to help fight against heart disease.

Other items on this list are specific to wine. For example, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine published a study showing that red wine may reduce your risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This study was met with some push back, as it is common knowledge that any alcohol increases your risk of liver disease. The researchers refined their statement, saying that those who desire this effect should consume only red wine, and only one glass a day.

The common thread through many of Medical News Today’s reported health benefits is that a single glass of wine, consumed daily, can have wonderful effects on your heart and cardiovascular health. One cited study showed that a glass of wine consumed with dinner helped the cardiometabolic process. This process is where many of the symptoms of type-2 diabetes arise, so researchers believe that wine with a meal could aid many diabetics. While not entirely sure of the cause, the researchers said they think the ethanol in wine may help to break down any excess glucose.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence backed up this idea. Despite being slightly biased against alcohol, the NCADD showed their ability to state facts as facts when they published this piece on the benefits of wine. They note that wine can help to raise HDL or “good” cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of blood clots, prevent damage by LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and can cause changes in our blood pressure. The reduced risk of blood clotting may also aid stroke victims, as John Hopkins medicine reported in 2010 that red wine can help to shield a person from suffering brain damage in the event of a stroke.

As all sources confirm, red wine is high in resveratrol. A compound found in many plants to prevent bacteria, the grapes that make up wine are an excellent source of this, especially after fermentation. While you certainly shouldn’t be replacing a water bottle with a wine glass, wine remains an excellent way to relax.

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