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
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 …
There is a resurgence of debate about the
validity of the J-curve, especially as it relates to alcohol and cancer. A 2014
report determined that “alcohol use was positively associated with overall
mortality, alcohol-related cancers, and violent death and injuries, but
marginally to CVD/CHD” (cardiovascular disease). In other words, there was
little benefit if any in terms of heart disease but a big upside risk for
cancer and accidental or violent demise. Gone was the French Paradox! The J curve is dead! Or not. Though that
statement may be technically true, I looked at look at the data myself and
found something different: a strong confirmation
of the J-curve for overall mortality, overall cancer deaths, cardiovascular
disease, and all “other causes.” This held for both men and women: Used under creative commons license
from Ferrari P, Licaj I,Muller DC, et al. Lifetime alcohol use and overall and
cause-specific mortality in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer