Red Wine — It’s Like the New Green Vegetable

red wine

 Lowers risk of liver disease

Considered by some to be an emerging epidemic, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common chronic liver disease in the United States today, due in large part to our Western lifestyle and obesity, notes study author Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, MD, at the University of California, San Diego. He and his colleagues found that moderate wine drinkers are significantly less likely to develop NAFLD than nondrinkers, even after controlling for other possible contributing factors.


Healthier heart

Wine in particular possesses potent heart-healthy benefits, according to a large-scale study, published in 2000, which included Copenhagen City Heart Study data. Researchers found the risk of death significantly lower than for people who did not drink wine and believe it’s due to ethanol and the substances in wine. Other research shows that the high polyphenol content in red wine protects the linings of cardiovascular blood vessels and may inhibit plaque formation.

Prostate cancer protection

Men who drink four to seven glasses of red wine weekly are half as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as men who do not drink red wine, according to research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Doctors speculate that healthful antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids and resveratrol are responsible for this effect. White wine was helpful too, but not as much as red wine, which is a richer source of these health-promoting compounds.

Kidney care

Drinking at least two glasses of red wine a week may lower the risk of kidney cancer, say doctors at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Beneficial effects were also found with white wine and strong beer, but not liquor. Other research, conducted in part at Harvard Medical School, suggests that men who consume seven or more drinks weekly have a 29% lower risk of developing kidney problems.

Longer life

One day resveratrol may prove to be the key to unlocking the secret of lasting youth. Laboratory tests demonstrate that this antioxidant compound in red wine prevents early death in mice that were fed high-fat diets.  (For more on the health benefits of resveratrol, see Daily Health News, August 2, 2007.) Yet so far no human research has taken place, so further study is needed.


So it seems there’s some merit to such toasts as “salud” (health) and “l’chaim” (to life).  Enjoying a glass of red wine with your evening meal may indeed improve your health and extend your life — but do so with restraint, and drink at mealtime, since food slows alcohol absorption. Most experts suggest that an intake of one to two glasses of wine a day for men and one for women is optimal for health benefits. More, however, may increase the risk of some of the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Red wines have more polyphenols than white (which, as noted above, can also be beneficial) but not all red wines offer equal potency of this health-promoting compound. A study in the scientific journal Nature reported that the most powerful heart-healthy polyphenols are procyanidins, which is the main source of the vascular health benefits in red wine. Wines from Southern France and Sardinia were found to have higher concentrations, due to production methods. Other research shows that the darker the wine, in general, the healthier.

However none of this is meant to suggest you ought to cultivate a wine habit if you don’t want to or don’t particularly enjoy it.  Immoderate alcohol consumption has a greater negative effect than the positive beneficial effects. Dr. Schwimmer takes cautionary advice a step further, warning that people at risk for alcohol abuse or alcoholism (for example, those with a personal or family history) should not consume wine or other alcoholic beverages.  Fortunately for teetotalers, there’s an excellent alternative — red grape juice and grapes themselves are rich sources of many of the same beneficial compounds as red wine. Other antioxidant-packed options include blueberries, cranberries, elderberries and pomegranates. If you’re worried about the consequences of imbibing too much nectar of the Gods, just reach for a bunch of grapes.


Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, MD, director, Fatty Liver Clinic, associate professor of pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, California.

Source from The Bottom Line’s Daily Health News


Lowers risk of liver disease