The Health Benefits of Wine

A glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away. 

The ever-growing quest to live a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle is evolving. Considering the general stressors and conundrums of a hectic world, the first thing to do is relax. Stress and the lack therein exemplify the symbiotic relationship between body and mind. Fortunately for health-aficionados, there are developing studies proving that drinking wine offers more benefits than spirits.


Wine, beer and liquor altogether elevate ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels, similarly found in oatmeal, nuts and fruit. A recent Harvard School of Public Heath study revealed that wine—especially red varietals—had benefits more than keeping the heart finely tuned … but why red?


Red wine’s got heart


Harvard already stated, “Red wine may contain more and more various substances in addition to alcohol that could prevent blood clots, relax blood vessel walls, and prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad” cholesterol), a key early step in the formation of cholesterol-filled plaque.” In addition to keeping heart disease at bay, when accompanied with a meal, red wine offers more cardiovascular benefits than beer or spirits. Drinking wine with a meal is natural and who understands that better than the French.


The phenomenon known as the ‘French Paradox’ exhibits the low percentage of heart disease and obesity combined with a high intake of saturated fat. A diet rich in whole dairy, red meats and other saturated ‘no-no’s’. Perplexed? Of French adults, only 7 percent are obese. If obesity is a main contributor to heart disease and illness, can red wine be the magical formula to a healthy lifestyle?


The power of red wine is found in the seeds and skins of grapes, the same antioxidants found in blueberries and the Acai and Noni berry. Resveratrol, a molecule belonging to a group of plant compounds called polyphenols, are found in red wine. Both white and red wines have levels of Resveratrol yet red wine holds the greater benefit.


Red wine is fermented with the skins, allowing the wine to extract the Resveratrol whereas white wine is fermented after the skin has been removed.  Case in point, Pinot Noir is generally paired with its red color as it is made with red grapes. A wine’s color comes from the grape, not the flesh. A white Pinot won’t have the same benefits as a red, however delightful.


Reservatol offers different benefits for men and women. Harvard concluded that Reservatol counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate. It dampens the cell activity of the genes that activate cellular growth leading to prostate cancer. Resveratrol also kills prostate cancer cells, a process call ‘apoptosis’. A man who chooses to drink two glasses of wine a day not only reduces his risk for prostrate cancer but aids in his quest for longer life.


Women need half as much alcohol as their male counterparts to gain the health benefits of wine. The researches at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center found women who drink red wine in moderation may reduce their chances of getting breast cancer. The chemicals within the skins and seeds of grapes lowered estrogen levels, a great factor in breast cancer risk.


If these deterrents are not enough, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stated that the antioxidants in grape skins and red wine aid in the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells by reaching to the cell’s core energy source, paralyzing its function. Red wine is becoming more logical and attractive even to those who wouldn’t ordinarily drink it, perhaps a logic-minded option for health.


With all the scientific evidence on red wine, it may seem appropriate to overflow one’s cup, correct? The answer is a definitive “absolutely not.” The idiom “too much of a good thing” rings true with not just red wine, but alcohol in general. Men and women alike can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and the possibility of a stroke by drinking moderate amounts. Conversely too much alcohol be it red wine or any other spirit can cause high blood pressure, damage to the heart muscle, brain damage, pancreatitis, osteoporosis, intestinal bleeding and cancers of the mouth, voice box and upper digestive tract.


Exercising moderation is the greatest philosophy to balance and activate every health benefit the power of red wine has to offer. Remember: good food, good friends and a good health. Cheers!


By Julie Bilotta



Julio’s picks on some fabulous reds


Abraham Lerner, assistant wine director at Julio’s Liquors of Westborough, has suggested some attractive & provocative reds to enjoy:


Wines made of the varietal (Tannat) responsible for the French Paradox:


2006 Folie de Roi, Madiran, France, $13.99

2006 Producteurs Plaimont, Monastere de Saint-Mont, Saint Mont, France, $30.99

2009 Pueblo del Sol, Tannat, Uruguay, $9.99


Other wines from around the world:


2007 Sant’Angelo, Negroamaro, Salento, Apuligia, Italy, $9.99

2009 Girard, Petite Sirah, Napa Valley, California, $28.99

2006 DeTrafford, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa, $44.99


A personal favorite:

2009 Dreaming Tree, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $12.99

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