Some people get apprehensive when alcohol or wine gets mentioned, for different reasons: health reasons, cultural or religious reasons. Interestingly, many also believe that sipping a glass of red wine a day is an essential add-on for a healthy diet. Some others think it offers no real benefit.
Whether it’s at a party, a wedding ceremony, at a formal function or just unwinding at home, red wine is one drink that is always a table staple. Apart from habit, culture too significantly impacts people’s tastes and preferences when it comes to wines and alcohol generally.
As we’ll see, red wine does have a number of great health benefits, backed by science! If you are keen on finding out the rather surprising health benefits of red wine, then read on.
Red wine is a type of wine derived from dark-colored grapes. According to Wikipedia, the actual color of the wine can range from intense violet – typical of young wines– through to brick red for mature wines and brown for older red wines. It is rich in antioxidants, and drinking moderate amounts has been shown to be good for health.
Grapes are a very rich source of antioxidants such as resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins. These substances are believed to be responsible for the health benefits of red wine. Science too suggests that red wine if taken in moderate amounts is linked to more health benefits than any other alcoholic beverage.
While researching about red wines, I found out some very weird, and pretty interesting things. Let’s start with the fun facts, shall we?
10 Fun Facts About Red Wine
♠ A research found that people tend to drink more slowly when wine (or any alcohol for that matter) is served in straight-sided glasses than when it’s served in glasses with curved sides.
♠ Damage to the liver caused by alcohol consumption may be reversed by drinking more coffee.
♠ Ancient Traditional Chinese medicine considers snake wine, an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol, as an important curative medicine.
♠ The oldest bottle of wine in the world dates back to A.D. 325 and was found near the town of Speyer, Germany, inside one of two Roman sarcophaguses. It is on display at the town’s Historisches Museum der Pfalz.
♠ The color in red wine comes from a plant pigment called anthocyanin found in the skins of red grapes.
♠ People with blue eyes tend to have a higher tolerance for alcohol and get drunk less easily.
♠ Older red wines or vintage wines are not necessarily better for you than newer wines. Although some wines taste better as they age, health-wise, fresher red wines are better for your health as they contain larger amounts of tannins.
♠ Sweet wines vs. Red wines: Dry red wines are known to be better than sweet wines.
♠ Compared to high alcohol wines, red wines with lower alcohol levels (preferably below 13% ABV) are better. Red wines with higher tannin (those that are more astringent) are better than low tannin wines.
♠ Red wines become lighter in colour as they grow older. It gradually fades in colour with time becoming more pale and translucent.
Red Wine Health Benefits
Having red wine in moderate amounts has been shown to have health benefits. This is largely due to the fact that it is rich in a number of very potent antioxidants.
Also, studies show that the alcohol in wine may also contribute to some of the benefits of moderate wine consumption. Scientists say the benefits from red wines come mostly from the polyphenols and plant compounds it contains.
Let’s look at how it relates to other aspects of health and wellness.
AS A SEX ENHANCER
When it comes to sex, especially in African as well as Oriental cultures, there exists myths and beliefs that red wine and alcohol possess abilities to enhance sex.
According to a research done in Italian, women who drank an average of 2 glasses of wine per day enjoyed sex a lot more intensely than women who don’t drink wine at all.
HELPS PREVENT HEART DISEASE, STROKE & CANCER
Red wine is also traditionally believed to be healthy for the heart also when taken moderately. A key component responsible for this benefit being the substance resveratrol, which helps control cholesterol, prevent blood vessel damage and stop blood clots.
This substance has been linked with many health benefits, including fighting inflammation and blood clotting, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. It is also believed to be able to make animals in (under test conditions) to live longer.
According to some ancient belief known as the “French Paradox”, red wine is believed to be responsible for the lower rates of heart disease in the French. This is despite the fact that, the French, being culinary aficionados consume a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol. Red wines also lower your chances of having a stroke compared to nondrinkers by a significant factor.
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Some research has shown that populations already at a high risk of heart disease, like the elderly, may benefit even more from moderate wine consumption. Other studies even suggest that drinking 1–3 glasses of red wine per day, 3–4 days of the week, may reduce the risk of stroke in middle-aged men.
Another antioxidant found in red wines, proanthocyanidin (a Procyanidin) may reduce oxidative damage in the body. Proanthocyanidin may also help prevent heart disease and cancers. Procyanidins, which are a type of condensed tannin also found in green tea and dark chocolate. This compound is specifically associated with inhibiting cholesterol plaque in blood vessels, which is highly beneficial to heart health and longevity.
Evidence from scientific research also exists showing that moderate wine drinkers are at a lower risk of death from heart disease, compared to non-drinkers or beer and spirit drinkers.
HELPS LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Aside from reducing the risk of heart diseases, stroke and possibly cancers, red wine also plays an important role in lowering blood pressure.
According to some statistic, people who drink approximately 150 ml (about ½ glass) of red wine a day seem to be at about a 32% lower risk than non-drinkers.
One study also showed that consuming 2–3 glasses of dealcoholized red wine per day may lower blood pressure.
Stress relief is also another effect of taking red wines which contain alcohol. It does this by triggering the release and uptake of chemical substances (neurotransmitters) dopamine and GABA in the brain which is responsible for the feelings of pleasure and excitation.
A cautionary note though, studies also show that higher intake increases the risk of heart disease dramatically.
DOES RED WINE BURN FAT?
Although red wine does not make you fat, it also doesn’t really help you burn fat. Sorry to burst your bubble. It does, however, help you keep your waistline in check.
Heres how: unlike beer which accumulates fat around your tummy, red wine does not pile up fat around your waistline.
Research carried out by experts on women who “women who routinely drank moderate amounts of alcohol, totaling about one drink per day” had about 10 pounds less body fat compared to “women who did not drink at all”.
According to scientists, this is because the calories in alcohol are not metabolized in the same way as calories from carbohydrates, fats or protein, which beers contain much of.
Perhaps this might be another reason to swap your beer and junk food for some red wine, don’t you think?
IS JUICE BETTER THAN RED WINE?
About the debate whether or not red wine offers more benefit than juice, well, what you read next might burst your bubble.
Red wine actually offers more health benefits than fresh juice. In fact, nutritionists say that for the same amount of antioxidants you’d get in red wine, you will need to have 20 glasses of apple juice or seven glasses of orange juice to equal that.
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As an accompaniment with foods, richer, heavier food would blend better with richer, heavier wines and vice versa. When serving, some restaurants prefer to serve red wine alongside steak, beef and red meats generally.
WHO NEEDS MORE RED WINE? WOMEN OR MEN?
Sure you must be wondering, who needs red wine more than the other – men or women? Let’s see what science suggests.
According to science, for men and women who drink moderately, red wine lowers their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by about 30%. The antioxidants found in red wine lower incidences of cardiovascular disease, mortality, and type-2 diabetes.
Women are more likely to experience the effects (good or bad) of red wine than men are. One of the main reasons being that women have less alcohol-degrading enzymes lining their stomach walls compared to men, making them more susceptible to its negative effects.
Also, women tend to get drunk when taking red wine faster than men would. This is because they have a lower water to fat ratio. That means, their low alcohol tolerance is due to the higher fatty tissue in the female body than in the male body.
As a result of this, the alcohol will spreads faster through her system. This would make a woman who took she same amount of red wine with a man, have a higher concentration of alcohol in her blood than the man.
Now that we’ve dispelled the doubts, unraveled the facts and seen the benefits of red wine, you might want to consider adjusting your beverage menu a little bit.
Always remember to keep it moderate and drink responsibly. Cheers!