Do you really want red red wine to stay close to you? Although it’s been touted to have healthful benefits, new research isn’t so sure.
For the last number of decades, no one has missed a beat when it comes to the potential health benefits of red wine. Its antioxidant polyphenols—particularly resveratrol—has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects that promote heart health. Resveratrol is thought to relax and dilate blood vessels and is found in the skin and seeds of grapes.
But there is all kinds of conflicting information about alcohol consumption. For example, red wine contains 10x more antioxidants than white, and white has no resveratrol. Studies have indicated, however, that people from white-wine drinking regions of France experience the same benefits to heart health as red wine drinkers. Recent studies have also shown that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption of any alcohol can boost the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Studies have also shown that while drinking wine may boost the risk for high blood pressure and stroke, it seemed to protect the heart, thereby offsetting the risk of high blood pressure. So, it increased blood pressure without forming an association to heart disease. Weird stuff.
And a brand-new study showed drinking alcohol in small, frequent servings (like one or two standard drinks per day) can raise the risk for atrial fibrillation (a-fib) even more than binge drinking. This study, however, did not look exclusively at wine, but alcohol in general.
While there may be some benefits to heart health from red wine, alcohol is also known to boost the risk of genetic mutations that can lead to big trouble, albeit slightly. Research has indicated non-smoking drinkers who indulge in one bottle of wine per week boost risk for such conditions by one- to two-percent.
But other work indicates that light-moderate red wine can improve immunity, aid digestion, enhance gut bacteria, improve BMI, and reduce the risk for heart disease.
So, what does all this mean? If you’re going to drink, red wine might be the “healthiest” option. It may have benefits for your heart and gut, while being the best source of bioavailable resveratrol. Still, though, you might want to keep consumption under the one-to-two standard drinks per day, and only use it to compliment a heart-healthy eating style like the Mediterranean diet. Some experts suggest drinking about a champagne-flute’s worth (160 ml) per day at lunch or dinner.
Abstaining, however, is likely the healthiest overall. But to take advantage of red wine’s benefits—which are rather numerous—drink lightly. A small glass per day will do; any more than that and benefits can turn to risks.