To Your Health! The health benefits of wine.

“À Votre Santé!”  This classic French toast means “To Your Health” and is a common phrase heard as wine glasses are raised around the world.  Today’s posting is by guest author Lily Harper, who contributes a piece listing the health benefits of wine, and helping us to draw the line at what constitutes “too much of a good thing”.    So the next time you raise your glass and say “À votre santé!” remember the words to live from a cartoon character from my childhood – “Moderation in all things”.  And then, once in a while, remember too the adjunct provided by my Philosophy professor  “(including moderation!)
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Many have asked themselves, “Is wine good for my health?” Despite being a tricky question, the short and simple answer is: yes, wine is good for your health if taken in moderation and as part of an overall healthy diet.

The non-alcoholic phytochemicals and the alcohol content in wine have been proven to reduce the risks related to cardiac diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, and some types of cancer. What matters most when it comes to the health benefits of drinking wine is the amount taken. This is a very tricky situation where all the health benefits that were derived from wine can be quickly lost as consumption rises. If taken more than the recommended amount, the health benefits turn into health risks. The issue has been debated and researched for quite some time, and some experts have determined recommended and safe amounts of wine that can be effective if one is to derive the health benefits; for men, the limit is set to two glasses daily while for women, it is recommended to limit the intake to one glass per day.

Health Benefits

It has been established that moderate intake of wine can raise HDL-cholesterol, and this reduces the risk of heart diseases. The HDL-cholesterol is considered to be good cholesterol that helps in thinning blood. This regulates the flow of blood and reduces multiple health risks including sometimes fatal strokes caused by blockages in blood flow. It is important to ensure a regular intake of good cholesterol in order to reduce the risk of a stroke.

Wine also contains flavonoids and resveratrol which are non-alcoholic phytochemicals. These chemicals act as antioxidants and thus, reduce the risk of cellular damage in the body. Although the quantities of these chemicals are low in wine, their impacts are positive. Resveratrol has also been proven to prevent blood clotting. Recent studies have also shown that resveratrol reduces the risk for coronary heart disease and significantly increases cardiovascular health. Compared to white wine, this chemical is found in a higher concentrations in red wine. The concentration depends upon whether the skin of the grape is used in the wine making process. In the case of red wine, extended skin contact is what gives the wine its color, so the proportion of resveratrol is high. On the other hand, the skin is typically separated from the juice before the production of white wine, so it has a lower proportion of this beneficial chemical.

Wine has also been proven to enhance longevity. A Finnish study of 2,468 men over a time span of 29 years proved that individuals who drank wine had 34 percent lower mortality rate than those who drank beer.

It has also been established that drinking wine reduces the risk of type 2 Diabetes. According to research conducted on 369,862 individuals over a time span of 12 years at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, individuals who took moderate amounts of wine had 30 percent less risk of developing type 2 diabetes as against those who did not drink wine. Another study conducted on 3,176 individuals over a time span of 8 years proved that moderate intake of wine reduces the risk of strokes related to blood clotting.

It has also been suggested that moderate wine drinkers have a lower chance of getting cataracts as compared to nondrinkers or beer drinkers. This was proved by a study conducted in Iceland, which showed that moderate wine drinkers are 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts, compared to others.

So we can see that moderate consumption of wine yields an impressive number of health benefits.

Things to Remember

However, despite the positive aspects of moderate wine consumption, it must be noted that these health benefits can only be derived when it is taken in moderate amounts. Just as some drugs can save lives, addiction to the same drug can result in severe consequences and the same is true for alcohol abuse. Where on one hand, moderate use of wine increases good cholesterol, its extended use may increase triglycerides that can increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  Therefore, an individual must maintain the fine balance between beneficial effects of a good glass of wine and sever consequences of an addiction.

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Lily Harper writes on behalf of the Coalition Against Drug Abuse (drugabuse.com) who offer a range of treatment options for those struggling with addiction. She is a health writer who specialises in encouraging people to seek a healthier lifestyle and where possible avoid the unnecessary early adoption of drugs and other treatment for minor ailments.

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