Wine and especially red wine have long been a hot topic in terms of health and its benefits. There seems to be a lack of complete consensus on the topic, regarding if the benefits outweigh any negative effects and even as to how much is recommended and for who. However there does seem to be some general agreement that red wines, for folks of general good health, in careful moderation, does seem to be beneficial or at the very least harmless.
The key words here are “IN MODERATION“, much to some wine drinkers’ dismay. This means that overindulgence, whether daily or reserved for those wild weekends, are proven to have negative effects on our bodies (if not lives). Drinking too much alcohol (the definition of which varies by the type of alcohol but is actually much smaller of an amount than you might like) is universally accepted to cause problems such as liver disease, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of both a stroke and cancer. That is a discouraging fact for folks hoping to find out that drinking half a bottle after work is somehow beneficial, health-wise.
The resveratrol debate: Proponents of the health benefits of red wine are trying to pinpoint the specific components in red wines that have positive effects. Resveratrol is one of the current compounds being observed and tested, a so-called anti-aging compound that makes red wine drinkers live longer healthier lives. Though some lab tests have shown positive results in mice, others in the scientific and medical community are not so sure that’s enough (or even relevant) evidence to make any definite connection between human longevity and resveratrol. Further, though there is some conclusive evidence that resveratrol has benefits such as acting as an anti-inflammatory agent, there are also studies raising concern of potentially negative effects by this same seemingly friendly compound (ie: cancer, thromboembolism, etc). Sigh.
The Tuscan Wine Myth: Folks living in the celebrated wine region of Tuscany are among some of the longest living people world wide. Numerous studies are trying to understand if all the red wine they consume may be why. So far no research has managed to conclude that Tuscan wine is the secret ingredient to long life. Tuscans themselves don’t seem to subscribe to any miracle element in the wine being the sole reason for their long lives. In this interview with Maria Pio Fusi, family member of a Chianti Classico producer, she told The Telegraph “In Tuscany, we look at the whole style of life, which is more relaxed. The people eat lots of fruit and vegetables. The olive oil is also rich in anti-oxidants. We have a lot of nature, and a better relationship with the wine.” (hit the link for the full article).
Some Reds Are Better Than Others: According to Prevention.com, which is on the side of the medical community that believes in the beneficial powers of resveratrol and the anti-oxidant content in red wines, the wines that have the highest health benefits are: Pinot Noir, Madirans, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
So is red wine the liquid flowing throw the legendary fountain of youth? It’s hard to say at this point, though continued research on the topic will surely help us to uncover wine’s hidden powers, for better or for worse, as time goes on. What we can say for sure is that: a healthy lifestyle combined with drinking a reasonable amount of red wine, certainly don’t hurt!