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Is wine healthy?


YES, wine may protect our hearts when consumed in moderation — defined as up to one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men, according to US dietary guidelines. Five ounces of wine is considered one drink.

Benefits of moderate alcohol consumption such as wine include a 30% reduction in the risk of heart attack compared to non-drinkers, a finding that has been repeated over 30 years and in various countries, according to Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition who has been researching the effects of alcohol and chronic disease for decades at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Additionally, alcohol consumption has been associated with a 30% to 40% reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes, compared to those who don’t drink.

But more is not better. Excessive drinking can increase the risk of diseases, including heart disease, liver disease and certain cancers.

The pattern of drinking matters too, so saving up for a bottle of wine during a Saturday night dinner isn’t quite the same as following a ‘one-a-day’ rule. “The maximum benefit appears to be when alcohol consumption is spread out over the course of a week, or at least every other day,” said Rimm.

Isn’t red wine better?

Red wine has been praised for its resveratrol content. Resveratrol is a polyphenol (plant chemical) found in the skin of red and purple grapes (less so in green). It has antioxidant properties and it also helps to make arteries more flexible, which lowers blood pressure. The amount of resveratrol in red wine is greater than in white and rosé wines, since grape skins are removed early during the production of white and rosé wines.

According to Rimm, a few studies suggest that consuming red wine may be more beneficial than drinking other alcoholic beverages. But, he adds, the amount of polyphenols in red wine is simply not enough to explain the benefits on health.

“If you are a woman, and you’re drinking a glass of red wine each day, the amount of polyphenols is small compared to other sources of polyphenols in your diet, like blueberries, tea, apples and dark chocolate,” he said.

For example, if you are consuming a glass of red wine daily and also consuming a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet, the polyphenols from red wine represent less than 5% of the total amount of polyphenols in your diet, according to Rimm.

By comparison, the amount of resveratrol given to mice in studies is equivalent to the amount that you would find in 8 to 10 bottles of red wine — an amount considered unhealthy for humans.

What’s more, research that has looked at resveratrol in humans isn’t that promising. One recent study involving close to 800 men and women 65 years or older concluded that resveratrol consumed from dietary sources was not associated with longevity; nor did it decrease the incidence of heart disease or cancer. — CNN


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