So why has red wine been the focus for health benefits rather than white wines? Red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine. This is because during the wine making process, red wine unlike white wine is macerated for weeks with the skin, which contains the highest concentrations of phenolic compounds. Maceration is a process of softening the grapes or separating it into its constituent elements by steeping it in its juices. Polyphenols are a complex mixture of flavonoids (such as anthocyanins) and non-flavonoids (such as resveratrol). These compounds are naturally found in the grape itself and act as potent antioxidants which provides many health benefits.
So, what are its benefits?
Reduces the risk of atherosclerosis
According to the AHA journal, its polyphenolic compound plays an active role in limiting the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Overtime, the plaque hardens and narrows your arteries which can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Both the alcohol and polyphenolic compounds help maintain the healthy blood vessels by promoting the formation of nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide plays a vital role in regulating the vascular tone. Nitric oxide acts to protect against vascular injury, inhibits the adhesion of inflammatory cells to the vessel wall and limits the activation of platelets, which is involved in blood clotting.
Raises levels of omega 3 fatty acid
The European study IMMIDIET had a major finding stating that moderate alcohol intake is associated with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid in plasma and red blood cells. This study suggested that wine does better than other alcoholic drinks. This effect could be due to the other compounds present in wine other than the alcohol itself, highlighting the mechanism lying behind the heart protection observed in moderate wine drinkers. Omega-3 fatty acid are mainly obtained from fish and are considered protective against coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac arrest. Thus, its high blood concentration is considered beneficial to us.
The Harvard Medical School concluded that resveratrol has anti-aging benefits. This study showed that resveratrol stimulates production of SIRT1. SIRT1 is a serum which blocks diseases by speeding up the mitochondria, the cell’s energy production centre.
Consuming red wine can help those overweight better manage their health. Researchers discovered that a chemical in red wine, ellagic acid slowed the growth of existing fat cells and the formation of new ones. In addition, it boosts metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells. However, red wine is no miracle cure for weight loss.
Prevents certain cancers
Resveratrol is a well-studied agent and is seen to have a potential role in cancer chemoprevention. It can work as an anticancer agent by suppressing metabolic activation of pro-carcinogens to carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that are capable of causing cancer in living tissues. Resveratrol also inhibits cell growth and induces cell death in cancer cells by targeting cell survival and cell death regulatory pathways.
Prevents blinding diseases
From the study carried out by vision researches in Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, resveratrol which is found in red wine, blueberries, grapes and peanuts, stops out of control vessel growth in the eye. This discovery has implications for preserving vision in blinding eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 50.
How much should you drink?
It is recommended by the American Heart Association that men should not have more than two drinks per day and not more than one drink per day for non-pregnant women. A standard drink is generally considered to be 5 oz of wine. Studies have shown that a person is most likely to obtain the benefits of red wine from low to moderate drinking as compared to binge drinking.
Where can you enjoy some great wine?
The Barn! This is one place in KL where you can enjoy some great wines, red wines at that! Click here if you want to make a reservation at The Barn.
Medical News Today
Biological Basis of Alcohol-Induced Cancer
American Heart Association
by Shu Ying Chee
I live by this quote, “Prevention is better than cure”. This is why I am a strong believer in practicing a healthy lifestyle… and so should you! View all articles by Shu Ying Chee.