We drink it with a nice dinner. We covet it after a long day. When we gather for a celebration, it always finds its way to the table. Yes, we're talking about wine. Wine is the center of happiness. It relaxes our mind and brings smiles to faces. Beyond the mental happiness, drinking alcohol can be good for your physical health when it comes to moderate wine consumption.
We've all heard that a glass of wine here and there is good for you, but how exactly does it contribute to your health? The ways seem almost endless. New studies appear to be constantly backing up the health benefits of drinking wine for moderate drinkers. From decreased mortality rate to attacking cancer cells, a little wine at the end of the day can go a long way when it comes to beneficial effect.
Before we talk health benefits though, let's talk pour size. It can be hard to gauge what an appropriate pour size is given the varying sizes and shapes of wine glasses. While we may love our oversized wine glasses, medical experts don't consider that a proper pour.
A proper glass of wine is a 5-ounce pour. And when we say "moderate drinking", that means what is clinically considered to be healthy. For women, it's one glass a day and for men it's two - I know ladies, we get the short end of the stick. Wish more meant better, but that's life.
Now that we got that straightened out, let's get to the fun part. Pour yourself a glass, and take a look at the ten ways wine benefits your health.
1. It contains antioxidants.
In the battle against fighting off free radicals that cause terrible health problems such as cancer, wine could be your answer. Wine is full of antioxidants that attack free radicals when they come lurking around. When choosing your wine for antioxidants, go with white.
A study done by the University of Barcelona scientists found that the phenols in white wine had equal, if not higher antioxidants, than those in red wine. This is interesting because wine drinkers commonly believe red wine provides the most health benefits in moderate amounts.
2. It boosts the immune system.
While you probably shouldn't stop taking your daily vitamins, drinking a glass of wine daily can give your immune system a boost. Moderate alcohol consumption can ward off infections and keep your immune system in check.
Don't get too carried away, though. Excessive consumption can lead to negative effects that defeat the whole purpose or drinking wine for an immunity boost.
3. It increases bone density.
As we get older, our bones get more brittle. You could increase your calcium intake by drinking milk, or you can do yourself a real favor and sip on a relaxing glass of wine.
Red wine has high levels of silicon, which is great for your bone mineral density. It increases the density and reduces the chance of osteoporosis. And like warm milk, it may help you doze off at night.
4. It reduces the risk of stroke.
Moderate consumption of wine - and alcohol in general - can prevent blood clotting. Wine acts as a natural blood thinner, breaking up any blood clots that could lead to a stroke. This lower risk of blood clotting is more beneficial to females than males.
Red wine, in particular, contains phenols that act as a blood thinner in a similar regard to aspirin - and resveratrol is mostly to thank. A study done by John Hopkins University Medical Center found that resveratrol found in red grape skins could protect against stroke when the grapes were turned into wine.
Beware, while light to moderate consumption may be good in preventing a stroke, heavy drinkers are more likely to have the opposite effect, resulting in a higher risk of heart attacks, not a lower risk. Like all good things in life, moderation is key.
5. It reduces the risk of heart disease.
In the battle against heart disease, taking all necessary precautions is well worth it - especially when it involves wine. The tannins found in red wine contain procyanidins - phenols which neutralize free radicals - that have shown to be effective in preventing cardiovascular disease.
According to WebMD, a study by researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa tested the effects of red wine on the health of blood vessels. What they found after 21 consecutive days of consumption was that blood vessel cell health was enhanced, improving the flow of blood. This increases the health of the heart, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
So the lesson is, if you want a healthy heart, bite the bullet and drink a glass of wine. While the American Heart Association does not support drinking for nondrinkers or those at risk of alcoholism, those who already imbibe may continue light drinking for positive heart health.
6. It can lower cholesterol.
Have bad cholesterol and no dietary guidelines? Pour a bowl of your Cheerios in the morning and stick to wine at night. Those procyanidins in red wine that promote a healthy heart also promote lower cholesterol.
Reservatrol also decreases LDL - bad cholesterol - while increasing the HDL - good cholesterol. This also means that red wine benefits blood pressure, so if you're suffering from high blood pressure, it's best to pour a glass. If you're having trouble keeping your cholesterol levels on the good side, sip on a daily glass of medicinal red wine.
7. It reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Let's face it, diabetes flat out sucks. You can't indulge in cravings without first considering the health repercussions that result in more than a larger waistline. The good news is that if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, wine may help.
Resveratrol has been proven to improve sensibility to insulin. With insulin resistance contributing to type 2 diabetes risk, a nice glass of wine makes the list of things you can enjoy.
8. It reduces the risk of cancer.
In the battle against cancer, wine may is on your side. The risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer can be reduced by drinking a glass of wine. The antioxidants combat nasty free radicals that allow cancer to thrive. Red wine especially is beneficial, as the resveratrol that fights against heart disease also fights against cancerous cells.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that:
"Men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only 52 percent as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine. In addition, red wine appears particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers."
Not that we need another excuse to drink wine, but if it can help against the vicious battle against cancer, then we'll happily pour a glass. If you're looking for a red high in resveratrol, then opt for a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon.
9. It improves cognitive function.
It may sound crazy, but drinking a glass of wine is like food for the brain. Drinking a single glass has shown to improve brain function. The chemicals in red wine prevent the brain's neurons from dying off.
As a result, it protects the brain from dementia while slowing the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The next time you do your brain exercises, drink a glass of wine to help you gear up.
10. It promotes longevity.
When you hear about healthy living and longevity, time and time again the Mediterranean diet comes up. At the core of that diet, beyond olive oil and vegetables, is wine. There is something magical inside the daily glass of wine that increases life span. And that magical thing is resveratrol.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that resveratrol activates a protein that acts as an anti-aging agent. The interaction increases overall health, thus promoting longevity. If a decreased mortality rate is not enough reason to drink a glass of wine, then I don't know what else it.
Do yourself a favor, and pour a glass of wine and toast to your health.