Health Benefits of Drinking Wine

As far back as 450 BC, physicians have suggested the health benefits of wine to fight fever, disinfect wounds and provide nutritional supplements. However, Greek science also taught that the stars moved on heavenly spheres, so one has to be careful. Has anything been learned since?

Fortunately, many studies since have provided more than enough evidence of the truth of Hippocrates early observations.Since the 1970s, numerous studies have concluded that modest drinking of red wine does indeed have beneficial health benefits, although the exact reasons are still debated.

Red wine consumption helps prevent coronary disease and possibly some forms of cancer due to a class of compounds known as catechins or flavanoids. Similar to resveratrol, which aids grapes in fighting fungal infections, they act as anti-oxidants and anti-coagulants. Free radicals, i.e. ionized oxygen atoms in the blood, are known to cause cellular damage. Anti-oxidants remove free radicals.

Other studies suggest that red wine can raise HDL cholesterol (the 'good' kind) and discourage LDL (the 'bad' kind) from forming. Along with cholesterol regulation, most of the pathogens that threaten humans are repressed or killed by the acids and ethanol in wine. Unsurprisingly, then, that until the mid-18th century wine was safer than water for daily consumption in Western countries.

A recent study into the health benefits of wine, carried out by the American Journal of Physiology indicates that resveratrol also inhibits the formation of a protein that reduces the heart's pumping efficiency during stress.

According to an American Journal of Gastroenterology study in 2003, moderate wine consumption decreases the risk of peptic ulcers, possibly by ridding the body of the bacteria, which causes them.

Even diabetes occurrence may be reduced by moderate (one or two drinks per day) alcohol consumption, according to a 14-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 100,000 women. The study concluded they had a 58% lower likelihood of developing that disease. The exceptions are pre-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer who are recommended to consume no alcohol.

Of course, as with anything one consumes, there are risks. Many wines contain sulfites to which a small percentage of the population is sensitive. In addition, wine, though absent of fat and cholesterol, does contain sugars and small quantities of sodium and, of course, alcohol. It does not take much to become too much.

No one with digestive tract disorders, liver disease or kidney problems along with a slew of other ailments, would be doing themselves any favors by drinking wine.

Then there are the well-known effects of excessive intake, such as hangovers and, in the long run, liver damage. Moreover, pairing wine with drugs, even normally beneficial ones such as aspirin or acetaminophen, is a recipe for disaster.

If you are still unclear about the pros and cons of wine consumption with regard to health, do not worry about it. Do not rely on one article or source of information but rather read many studies and take it all with a grain of salt. Then you can feel good about taking it with a glass of wine.