Wine – in moderation – has long been touted as good for health, and many people believe that having a glass of red or white on a regular basis can enhance their overall wellness.
May 25 is National Wine Day, a time to celebrate wine for its history and the depth it adds to meals and celebrations. It’s also an appropriate time to explore the health benefits that wine may offer.
Mayo Clinic reports that antioxidants in red wine, as well as the alcohol, may help ward off coronary artery disease. The benefits also may stem from the increase in “good” cholesterol — high-density lipoprotein — that antioxidants may provide.
Wine and other types of alcohol are also believed to reduce the formation of blood clots, improve function of blood-vessel cells and help stop damage from arteries caused by harmful cholesterol.
Research has found that individuals who imbibe moderately have a 32-percent lower likelihood of developing cataracts than do people who don’t drink at all. In addition, people who drink wine are significantly less likely to have cataracts than those who mainly stick to beer.
Research has found that drinking a moderate amount of wine lowers the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent. In addition, wine is believed to reduce the chances of other types of cancers. (However, it is also important to note that alcohol has been linked to higher incidents of breast cancer.)
Substances in wine, including phenolic compounds and antioxidants like resveratrol, may retard growth of cells related to breast, prostate and liver cancer, studies have shown.
Moderate drinkers also may reduce their risk of osteoporosis, the thinning of bones related to loss of calcium. One study indicated that women who drank a moderate amount of wine each day had higher mineral density in their hip region bones than did individuals who drank higher quantities or not at all.
One or two alcoholic drinks a day may lower the possibility of developing dementia by nearly 40 percent, research has shown. The moderate drinkers included in the study were over the age of 75 and displayed a reduced risk of dementia compared to peers who did not drink and those who had more than two drinks each day.
Another study found that brain function deteriorated at a significantly slower pace in moderate drinkers than in people who abstained from alcohol.
Should You Drink Wine for Your Health?
Despite all the good news about wine and health, most doctors won’t advise you to start drinking if you’re not already a drinker. Drinking to excess can increase the risk of a variety of health problems — including the danger of automobile accidents — and can outweigh the benefits gained from moderate drinking.
As scientific research continues to shed more light on the benefits and risks of drinking, the best policy for drinkers may be to enjoy your wine while keeping consumption at a moderate level.