Sunday, 23 March 2014

Benefits of red wine

The benefits of red wine

Wine bottles
Source: Flickr
Red wine receives a lot of attention for being a particularly healthy form of alcohol, and this is definitely justified when you look at some of the benefits of red wine. When consumed in moderation, red wine can decrease the risk of heart disease, fight off free radicals, ease inflammation, and lower the risk of various types of cancers. The benefits of red wine may even extend to your appearance, giving you a clearer and more radiant complexion. So what are the benefits of red wine?

  • Red wine decreases the risk of artherosclerosis, which is a hardening of arteries that precedes heart disease
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Fights free radicals
  • Protects against mental decline
  • Helps prevent the common cold
  • Reduces the chance of having a stroke
  • Benefits your skin
  • May reduce the effects of aging and increase lifespan
  • Helps prevent tooth decay
  • Helps you sleep

Wine corks
Source: Flickr

Red wine benefits the heart

It's fairly well known that alcohol in moderation is good for the heart. Until recently however, the benefits of red wine to the heart were considered to be because of the alcohol content. Some of the latest research shows evidence beyond this, that compounds like resveratrol in red wine are able to benefit the heart in other ways.
Red wine
Source: Flickr
Worthy of particular note is the ability of red wine to decrease the risk of artherosclerosis. When arteries harden and thicken up from calcification and cholesterol deposits, they lose their flexibility and don't allow blood to flow properly anymore. Phenolic compounds in red wine inhibit the oxidation of lipoproteins that contribute to artherosclerosis, decreasing the buildup that leads to blockages. Basically, red wine helps prevent your arteries from becoming clogged.

In conjunction with the artherosclerosis prevention, another way that red wine benefits the heart is by inhibiting the synthesis of endothelin-1. This compound is a peptide that has a potent vasoconstricting effect on blood vessels. By preventing it from being formed, red wine reduces blood pressure. Other compounds like trans-resveratrol reduce platelet aggregation to thin the blood and prevent blood clots.

Red wine benefits the brain

The brain is the most important organ in your body. This is because it is everything that you are, and you need to protect it if you want to remain cognitively able as you age. Free radicals are the biggest threat to your brain and red wine is able to neutralise them. Antioxidants in red wine, like flavonoids and resveratrol eliminate free radicals before they can cause damage to your cells.

Red wine
Source: Flickr
Due to this effect, red wine is able to slow cognitive decline and dementia, because the brain remains in better condition as you age. It also has notable benefits towards stroke prevention and damage reduction. In the case of a stroke, red wine benefits the brain by protecting neurons and limiting damage. Red wine itself significantly reduces the risk of stroke occurring in the first place and may even prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Red wine reduces cholesterol

It's clear that red wine benefits the heart by preventing the oxidation of lipoprotein, but it has the added benefit of actually reducing low density lipoprotein levels (LDL cholesterol). Red wine decreases cholesterol in this sense by increasing the rate of elimination and reducing the production of LDL cholesterol. It also has the added benefit of reducing serum triglycerides.

The benefits of red wine for cholesterol don't end there however. Red wine may increase HDL cholesterol, and it is this form of cholesterol that prevents LDL cholesterol from damaging blood vessels and the heart. As such, red wine benefits cholesterol and the heart through many routes including cholesterol management, reduction of platelet aggregation, a lowering of blood pressure, and triglyceride reduction.

Red wine protects teeth

Red wine benefits the teeth in a way that can prevent tooth caries by removing streptococcus mutans. Streptococcus mutans is a bacteria that inhabits the mouth and metabolises sugars into lactic acid. This lactic acid causes the teeth to be demineralised, which in turn leads to cavities. Because the bacteria forms biofilms, it is incredibly difficult to remove it from teeth and antibacterial agents will often not be able to penetrate through the biofilm to kill the bacteria. Red wine breaks down these biofilms, kills the bacteria, and prevents it from forming new biofilm to adhere to the teeth.
Red wine grapes
Source: Flickr

Red wine fights aging

Red wine fights aging in several ways. It is able to improve the appearance of skin, protect the heart, reduce the risk of various cancers, and prevent cognitive decline from diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's. Resveratrol might even be able to activate genes that increase longevity and lengthen the lifespan. Essentially, red wine could allow you to live longer, and reach old age in much better condition. 

Red wine benefits the skin

Red wine
Source: Flickr
Like all antioxidants, the polyphenols in red wine are beneficial to your skin. Red wine benefits the skin by reducing free radicals that damage the skin and cause it to look aged. By drinking red wine, your skin is protected from some of this age-related damage due to the antioxidants, keeping you looking and feeling younger. Resveratrol in red wine could even protect you from skin cancer according to the results of studies.

How much red wine is good for you?

To receive the most benefit from red wine, it's important to drink it in moderation. Alcohol in any form is beneficial in moderation, but loses the benefits as more is consumed. In the case of binge drinking or chronic consumption of higher amounts of alcohol, the benefits completely disappear and the alcohol becomes damaging to health instead.

Red wine
Source: Flickr
Red wine benefits your health the most when you consume it in moderation and on a daily basis. For men, this means 1 - 2 glasses of wine a day, or 1 glass of wine a day for women. This amount provides the optimum benefits without causing you harm from excessive alcohol intake. Any more than this will start to negate the benefits.

Which red wines are the healthiest?

When it comes to the type of red wine you consume, this has important implications towards the benefits. To receive the most antioxidants and active beneficial compounds, you should be drinking full-bodied red wine. Lighter and sweeter red wines have a much lower concentration of beneficial compounds and won't provide you with the maximum benefit.

Cabernet sauvignon is thought to be the most concentrated form of the beneficial compounds in wine. Durif and pinot noir are also beneficial, but less so than cabernet. If you don't particularly like full-bodied red wines, the lighter wines will still offer some benefit, but they are much less beneficial. It may be better to acquire a taste for full-bodied wines to really reap the health benefits of red wine.

Red wine
Source: Flickr

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