Facts and myths about the health benefits of wine

by Aug 10, 2020News0 comments

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Dear reader,

I’m Breno, glad to talk wine, health and debunking myths.

A while ago, you gave you two stories on wine and health. The first one, on keeping fit while on quarantine. The second, showing the example of the Mediterranean diet to show how you can have wine within a healthy diet.

Even though what I had written was exclusively based on facts, I still wasn’t satisfied.

Basically because whenever I roamed across the internet on wine and health, all the time I would find people sharing misleading statements involving wine being equivalent to exercise, one glass of red wine a day will automatically lessening the risk of heart/coronary diseases, that wine leads to a healthier sleep, etc.

Long story short: wine can be good for your health, yes! But not necessarily through the means commonly stated around the internet – and through countless studies that point towards very specific examples, but are nonetheless sold in media outlets as the ultimate truths.

Let’s separate facts and fictions, then? With some questions and answers, I’ll try to debunk some widely spread myths that arise when it comes to wine and a healthy lifestyle – and show what’s indeed proven or promising.

 

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Does wine help burn calories?

That depends on many factors, but not by drinking and letting go of having an active lifestyle.

So far, some advances have been made in the sense of linking wine to easier calorie-burning, mostly through the beneficial effects of the ellagic acid found in oaked red wines. But since the amount of this acid found in such wines is very low, it may not be that determinant.

One way or another, stay active and eat well!

Is wine actually good for the heart?

Possibly.

Results so far are promising, as recent studies (particularly one conducted in Cech Republic in 2014) have shown signs that that people who exercised twice a week and drank (moderately) red or white wine had had increased levels of HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) and decreased LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) than people who merely did the same amount of weekly exercises. This favorable combination, as you may know, is very important when assessing the cardiovascular health of a person.

As the researchers themselves point out, however, more studies are needed, and there’s no conclusive proof that wine is specifically a key factor in better cardiovascular health when in conjunction with exercising.

Does red wine reduce blood pressure?

No real signs of that. Many headlines have suggested this for decades, but the only more conclusive work on this has found in 2012 that only non-alcoholic red wine positively affected blood pressure men with high risk of cardiovascular disease.

No, your normal wine won’t cure your chronic hypertension. Sorry. And worse than that: drinking more than the recommended amount (one glass a day for women, two for men) does the inverse, as alcohol raises the risks of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Can wine help me live longer and better?

Maybe. Just maybe.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School claim regular wine drinkers have a 34% lower rate of mortality than other types of alcohol drinkers. And resveratrol, which is found in red wine, has been linked to anti-aging and antioxidant properties – but you can also have it from grapes, blueberries, cranberries and nuts in general. But if you go further than the moderate amounts, you’ll actually do the opposite.

Can I drink or sip wine every day?

So far, science believes yes. But moderation is key.

As long as you are consuming a moderate amount of alcohol (one a day for women and two for men, but consider being not that frequent already from the start), wine will likely not harm your health in the long run.

On the other hand, consuming heavy amounts of alcohol, including red wine, can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Consider reducing the amount of alcohol you drink to give your body a break.

Be responsible!

Does wine have anti-cancer benefits?

Possibly – thanks to the same ellagic acid we mentioned before. Since 2014, studies have debated its possible anti-carcinogenic properties as well as its antioxidant ones.

Then again, this is mostly associated with oaked red wines.

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Is red wine healthier than white wine? 

In general terms, so far science says yes. But not always.

The polyphenolic content of red wine with polyphenols such as resveratrol, quercetin and ellagic acid are much more abundant in red wine than in white. But these are not the only elements that can be good in physical health terms.

There have been recent studies that have shown white wine drinkers enjoyed better blood sugar controls, for example. But nothing is uncontested, and other researchers point out that actually mild alcohol consumption itself could be the driver for such benefits. Also, if a glass wine makes you feel more relaxed and de-stressed, it won’t matter if it’s red or white!

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Is a glass of wine a good sleep aid? 

False. Even though you might feel more relaxed and sleepy with wine and its alcohol’s sedative effects, it’s proven that there is an increased deep sleep early in the night, but then an experienced sleep disruption, greater awakening numbers and more time spent awake later on in the night. Of course, drinking moderately, you’ll likely feel this less.

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Our conclusion: 

Drink wine because it makes you feel happy and good! Keep it moderate, especially if you have underlying health conditions, and you’ll be fine.

Also: always good to occasionally check with your doctor to see if your current habits are okay.

Until next time!

 


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