Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protecting against artery damage.
While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That’s because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.
Still, many doctors agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. It’s possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits.
Red wine seems to have even more heart-healthy benefits than do other types of alcohol, but it’s possible that red wine isn’t any better than beer, white wine or liquor for heart health. There’s still no clear evidence that red wine is better than other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-healthy benefits.
Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention.
- It’s now generally accepted that drinking a glass or two of red wine can have health benefits. Moderate red wine consumption has been found to help prevent heart attacks, increase the amount of HDL “good” cholesterol and decrease the chances of blood clotting. Red wine also has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it can be helpful in reducing pain associated with some chronic conditions. Flavonoids, the antioxidant found in red wine, can help prevent cancer.But what about white wine and champagne? Do these have any beneficial properties?White wine has many of the same positive health benefits as red wine. It, too, contains flavonoids that have antioxidant properties, which can help prevent cancer. In fact, according to a study from the University of Barcelona, white wines may have a higher antioxidant capacity than red wines.
White wine also has the ability to protect the heart against aging, which can provide preventive benefits to the organ, though not all whites have the power to do so. According to research from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, only one of three white wines tested provided a significant boost of protection to the heart, while the other two tested (labeled only as “white wine #1” and “white wine #3”) did not improve ventricular recovery, which reflects anti-aging properties.
In addition, white wine could be beneficial towards achieving weight loss, according to a 2004 study from the University of Hohenheim (Germany). The study found that patients interested in losing weight and on a calorie-restricted diet may benefit from drinking white wine. A diet with 10 percent of energy derived from white wine was found to be as effective in assisting weight loss as a diet with 10 percent of energy derived from juices–plus the additional benefits from consuming wine.
Speaking of weight loss, champagne may be the alcoholic beverage to turn to if someone is looking to lose weight, as it is generally lower in calories than red wine, white wine or beer. However, that is not all that champagne brings to the table. Like red and white wines, champagne has heart-healthy properties, as discovered in a recent University of Reading (U.K.) study. Researchers found that, like red wine, champagne has a positive effect on endothelial function, a strong indicator of heart disease. The study results indicate that daily moderate consumption of champagne may improve vascular performance.
Beyond the heart, champagne could benefit your brain as well. Three glasses a week of bubbly could help prevent brain disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Reading study. It found that certain black grape varieties used in champagne can aid memory via a compound called phenolic acid. The researchers recommend that people drink two to three glasses of champagne a week, starting after the age of 40 to help stave off dementia.
Of course, all of these benefits come with caveats. First, though alcohol consumption can have some benefits, all of these studies indicate moderate consumption – not heavy consumption. In many cases, drinking too much can not only counteract the benefits one would receive, but it may, in fact, make things worse in the long run.
- The other problem may be with some of the studies themselves. As reported on Health Central previously, a few studies would require an inconceivable amount of consumption in order to gain the supposed benefits of resveratrol, for example. Likewise, where alcohol has been proven to assist in weight loss, mice were fed different diets that may not necessarily isolate the wine as the catalyst for weight loss.Still, there’s growing evidence in favor of moderate alcohol consumption–regardless of whether it is red wine, white wine or champagne.