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The health benefits of red wine

Red wine

Question from Peter: Is drinking wine good for you?

In a nut shell: Everything in moderation. First the good news – antioxidants found in red wine can have heart health benefits and fermented foods (grapes in this case) are good for digestion. The bad news – too much of a good thing can bring about some super sucky health problems.

In a clam shell: Powerful antioxidants found in red wine, resveratrol and polyphenols, stop nasty free radicals from destroying the body’s cells, ultimately helping reduce the risk of some diseases, namely heart disease and cancer. Whoop whoop!

Antioxidants may help prevent heart disease because they increase the level of good cholesterol in the body (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) which protects against artery damage by guarding the lining of blood vessels and reducing the formation of blood clots.

The best wines are the dark wines as they are higher in antioxidants which come from the pips and the skins of the grape. Red wine is fermented with pips and skins for longer than white wine and therefore has more antioxidants. Contact with oak (in a barrel when the wine is aging) also increased the antioxidant levels. The longer the oak contact the better – full bodied reds spend the most time in oak barrels, think Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz or Syrah.

Furthermore, wines from cooler regions have higher levels of antioxidants than wine from hotter regions, think Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley in Victoria, Tasmania, Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, Rioja in Spain and Napa Valley in California.

You can always argue that you could get the same amount of antioxidant goodness from eating grapes or drinking grape juice (or nibbling on blueberries which are packed with the good stuff) but that’s no fun now is it?!?

Something berries don’t have that wine does have is the health benefits associated with fermentation. Since Sarah Wilson and the I Quit Sugar craze everyone knows that eating fermented foods help with digestion and good gut bacteria and guess what? Wine is fermented, just like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and all those fad food we’re meant to be eating more of.

Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol seem to have a lower risk of heart disease but it is not recommended that you start drinking wine just to prevent heart disease because drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, liver damage, cancer, obesity, depression and that’s just to name a few.

If you drink wine make sure it’s done in moderation (no one likes a blabbering drunk). Just like you’re not going to eat a whole block of chocolate (well perhaps only if you’ve had a really bad day) you shouldn’t be drinking a whole bottle of wine either. That means two glasses of wine for men daily and one glass for the ladies (cause we’re generally smaller and have fewer enzymes that metabolise alcohol).

Enjoy in moderation people. Wine is fine – just don’t overdo it.


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