Research in the area of wine and health has exploded in recent years and in this blog I sort through it to see what is really useful. For a definitive resource please refer to my book Age Gets Better with Wine: New Science for a Healthier, Better, and Longer Life.
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7-9 of 101 healthy reasons to drink wine
7. Wine polyphenols discourage the formation of a hormone-like substance called endothelin-1, which is associated with the develoment of cholesterol plaques in arteries. One of the many ways in which wine is heart-healthy. 8. Wine substances encourage the development of molecules called "heat shock" proteins which protect the heart and other muscles from the deleterious effects of oxygen starvation. 9. Wine -derived molecules bind LDL, the bad cholesterol.
This Friday Feb 2nd is the annual “wear red” day in
Canada and the U.S. to raise awareness for women’s heart health. Why only a day
for the number one threat to women’s health? Women are 5 times more likely to
succumb to heart disease than breast cancer, which gets a whole month
(October.) Another contradiction is that the advice women hear about prevention
of breast cancer is the opposite of what you can do to lower the risk of heart
disease: a daily glass of wine. Even one drink a day raises your risk of breast
cancer, we are told, ignoring the overriding benefits of wine on heart health.
Drink red wine to live longer
Here’s why I think women should also “drink red.” For
starters, wine helps de-stress and celebrates life. Stress is a factor in heart
disease, and if that were the only way wine helped it would be worth
considering. But the medical evidence is also strong: a daily glass of red wine
helps raise the HDL “good cholesterol” levels, which lowers the risk of
It seems that the more studies we see on the relationship
between wine and health, and the larger they are, the more contradictory the
results. Headlines summarizing comprehensive international studies declare the
French paradox dead, and all alcoholic beverages are equally detrimental. I
think there is an overlooked explanation for this: over the past several
decades, convergence of drinking patterns around the world has separated wine
from its role as a daily part of a meal. Globalization has commoditized our
views about drink, toppling it from its role as a culturally specific emblem.
Global convergence of drinking
There are several recent reports summarizing the trend,[i],[ii],[iii]and it applies for both developed and developing countries. Since the early
1960s, wine’s share of global alcohol consumption has more than halved,
declining from 35% to 15%. Beer and spirits have taken up the slack, with beer
gaining 42% and spirits adding 43%, both large gains. The bigger story howeve…
I am often asked after lecturing on the healthful properties of wine which type is best to drink. Since much of the discussion has to do with the polyphenol antioxidants from the skins and seeds of the grape, red wine is the first criterion since it is fermented with the whole grape rather than the pressed juice. This allows for extraction and concentration of these compounds, familiar ones being resveratrol and tannins. But beyond that, which varietals have the highest concentrations?
According to the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder, “The best kind of wine is that which is pleasant to him that drinks it” but modern science expects more specifics. (The point of course is that if you have a wine that you enjoy you are more likely to drink regularly and therefore reap the benefits.) But there are several difficulties in singling out certain wines for their healthful properties. Which compounds to measure? Are we talking about heart health or the whole gamut? Is it the varietal of the …