Is wine healthy?

So what`s all the fuss about? Is wine really good for you or is it some clever marketing gimmick that a wine brand manager thought up? No, not one bit. There is proven reasoning why wine, especially red wine, is good for you.

In the beginning wine was used by healers and priests not only for healing but for religious purposes as well. Wine was considered safer to drink than water at the time and, therefore, right from the start wine has always been considered as an alternative medicine or a drink with health benefits.

Red wine, more than white wine is rich in a compound called phenolics (sometimes called polyphenolics). These phenolics are derived from the skin, stalk etc of the grape. These particular compounds have anti-oxidant properties.

One of the many phenolic compounds found in wine that has gained considerable attention is Resveratol, which has potent anti-oxidant properties. This is also found in green tea.

Any alcohol (including spirits and beer) in moderate amounts is widely believed to be good for one`s health. The word moderate here is key and most countries have issued guidelines on what moderate drinking should be in terms of standard drinks per day per person.

The health benefits of wine became widely known in 1991 when the American TV show 60 minutes did a programme on how people in France were indulging themselves in a fatty diet and drinking copious amounts of wine without any bad effects on their health in comparison to their American counterparts. This is now commonly known as the French Paradox. The answer they found was in their habit of drinking wine and also the method in which they consumed it i.e. with their meals. Overnight, the show changed the fortunes of many wineries and producers and world over the sales of red wine rose.

Similar studies in Italy have also shown that drinking with meals also reduces the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases.

The biggest advantage of drinking wine is its effect on coronary heart disease. A moderate amount of alcohol improves the balance between the harmful and beneficial forms of cholesterol and helps in the thinning of blood. Wine has also been known to reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer but there is not enough research to substantiate this. Though it can help people with respiratory problems, it can trigger wheezing in asthmatics due to the presence of sulfites.

Wine has also been linked to prevention of loss of vision with age, lowering the risk of non-insulin dependant diabetes. For weight watchers, dry wines have fewer calories than other spirits or beers, especially spirits that are consumed with mixers.

Nikhil Agarwal

The author is Director, All Things Nice,

Also read:
Wine a day ensures healthy old age in women
Red wine can help fight diabetes

Image: Flickr Creativecommons Dave photography