Drinking wine – lesser-known health benefits and potential downsides
The health benefits of red wine have been debated for some time.
Thanks to resveratrol, the wonder ingredient responsible for many of wine’s benefits, many believe that a glass each day is a valuable part of a healthy diet.
Besides the benefits highlighted in the previous two articles of our wine series – Health benefits of red wine, according to Science and Another 5 health benefits of wine, drinking wine in moderation may also have other benefits, including several that may surprise you:
Reduced risk of liver disease
According to a study that challenged conventional thinking about alcohol and liver disease, modest wine consumption – defined as one glass a day – may decrease the prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
Compared to teetotallers, modest wine drinkers cut their risk of NAFLD in half.
And compared with wine drinkers, modest beer or liquor drinkers had four times the chances of having suspected NAFLD.
Reduced risk of cancer
Red grapes are the fruit best able to suppress the activity of aromatase, the enzyme used by breast tumours to produce their own estrogen – this is called an aromatase inhibitor. Red wine may serve as a nutritional aromatase inhibitor, which may ameliorate the elevated breast cancer risk associated with alcohol intake.
You can also eat red grapes; those with seeds are especially helpful.
Resveratrol is also thought to kill cancer cells by cutting off a pathway that feeds cancer cells.
Studies show that moderate consumption of red wine can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50 percent.
According to a Harvard Men’s Health Watch report, men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week have a 52 percent less chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer compared to those who don’t drink wine.
Red wine appears especially protective against advanced or aggressive cancers.
Doctors speculate that flavonoids and resveratrol contain potent antioxidants and may counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.
Studies have also shown that moderate wine consumption is linked with a decreased risk of basal cell cancer and ovary cancer.
Reduced risk of stroke
Wine may reduce your risk of ischemic stroke. Wine consumption on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis was associated with a lower risk of stroke compared with no wine consumption. The benefits were not seen in beer or hard alcohol intake.
Reduced insulin resistance
Drinking two glasses per day of regular or dealcoholised red wine for four weeks may reduce insulin resistance.
Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in women
Moderate red wine consumption has been linked with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women.
Keeping a cold at bay
A study showed that those who drank wine were less likely to come down with a cold compared to those that drank beer or spirits.
Researchers think that the antioxidants help lower inflammation and reduce the symptoms of colds.
Excessive alcohol intake can be harmful. Consuming high amounts of alcohol and binge drinking is associated with negative health outcomes.
Drinking alcohol regularly may become out of control and lead to alcoholism.
Red wine contains twice the amount of calories as beer and sugary soft drinks. Hence, excessive consumption may contribute to high calorie intake and make you gain weight.
Increased risk of depression
Heavy drinkers are at a much higher risk of depression than moderate or non-drinkers.
When more than 30 grams of alcohol (about two to three glasses of wine) are consumed each day, the risk of developing liver disease increases.
End-stage liver disease, called cirrhosis, is life-threatening.
Increased risk of death and disease
Drinking a lot of wine, even only one to three days a week, may increase the risk of diabetes in men.
High alcohol intake has also been linked with an increased risk of premature death.
Optimal daily intake
Studies have found the optimal daily intake of wine to be one glass (150 ml) for women and two glasses (300 ml) for men. Drinking this moderate amount of wine is associated with health benefits, while drinking more than that may impact your health.
Keep in mind that even though moderate wine consumption can provide several health benefits, it’s important to consider your overall diet quality. An unhealthy diet can outweigh the advantages of drinking a daily glass of wine.
Additionally, certain individuals should abstain from alcohol, including minors, pregnant women, and individuals on certain medications.
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