The Great Wine Debate: Separating Fact from Fiction on the Health Benefits of Wine
Many adults enjoy an occasional drink with friends. A beer on a hot summer day or a specialty drink before dinner at a local restaurant seem harmless to most of us. Health experts tend to agree that alcohol in moderation is fine for the majority of people.
What the experts don’t always agree on is the health benefits—if any—of wine. It’s a debate that continues to rage on. Here’s what research tells us about six commonly-held beliefs about wine.
1. Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that is good for your heart.
While many researchers agree that resveratrol offers heart health benefits, you can also find it in many nonalcoholic drinks and foods. Grapes, cranberries, blueberries, grape juice, dark chocolate, and peanut butter all contain resveratrol. Drinking wine just for the added resveratrol likely isn’t worth it.
2. Alcohol consumption increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
This one is generally believed to be true. Women who consume three or more alcoholic drinks a week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer than their peers who don’t drink at all. The more alcohol a woman consumes, the higher her risk. Research shows the risk of breast cancer increases by 10 percent for every extra glass of alcohol a woman drinks in a day on a regular basis.
3. Wine consumption raises HDL, the “good” form of cholesterol.
This one is true, but with a caveat. While research shows moderate wine consumption can help raise the good cholesterol in your body, studies also seem to indicate that only those who exercise receive the benefit. Researchers believe there might be some form of synergy between exercise and the low dose of ethyl alcohol found in wine that helps increase HDL and improve heart health.
4. There are few heart health benefits associated with wine for African Americans.
Oddly enough, this might be true. Researchers at Harvard University believe both race and gender might play a role. Their study was published April 23, 2015 in the American Journal of Public Health and revealed the following:
“For men, the lowest risk of mortality was among white men who consumed 1–2 drinks 3–7 days per week and among black men who didn’t drink at all. For women, the lowest risk of mortality was among white women consuming 1 drink per day 3–7 days per week and among black women who consumed 1 drink on 2 or fewer days per week.”
5. Occasional binge drinking can wipe out any health benefits associated with drinking wine.
This one is true. If you limit your alcohol consumption most of the time but binge drink on an irregular basis, you put your heart at risk. The American College of Cardiology says that even young adults who occasionally binge drink increase their risk for cardiovascular disease.
6. Moderate wine consumption can help ease blood pressure risks.
This one also seems to be true, but moderation is the key. Moderate wine drinkers are at lower risk for death, even if they have higher blood pressure. The caveat, however, is an important one. Drinking too much can have the opposite effect: increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
While the bottom line on wine consumption for better health is still a little cloudy, there are other options that are proven to reduce your risk. The dining program at Sunrise Senior Living communities is designed to promote a healthy, well-balanced diet. We invite you to join us for a complimentary meal to learn more!