Have you ever heard of the French paradox? It is a well-researched phenomenon which refers to people who live in certain parts of France where red wine is commonly consumed during meals and have fewer cases of death from coronary heart disease. Studies show that this phenomenon may be due to the many benefits of red wine for the heart.

Taking advantage of the various health benefits of red wine is nothing new. An investigation conducted at Harvard University found a jar in the tomb of King Scorpion I, dating from 3150 BC. C., which contains traces of wine along with herbal residues.

Based on these findings, the researchers attested to the great antiquity of Egyptian herbal wines as medicine and their importance under the pharaohs during the initial unification of the country.

These wines contained dissolved herbs, such as balsam, mint, sage, thyme, juniper berries, honey, and frankincense, and were consumed to treat various health conditions, from digestive problems to herpes.

In addition to the knowledge of our ancestors, who used red wine to treat ailments and diseases , thousands of studies published over the course of several decades have shown that red wine, when consumed in moderation, can have a positive effect on the health of the wine. heart, improve cognitive function, reduce oxidative stress and even normalize blood sugar levels.

The 6 main benefits of red wine

When consumed in small amounts, red wine can be considered a superfood that provides powerful antioxidants that heal the body at the cellular level, such as quercetin and resveratrol. That is why the benefits of red wine are so abundant when consumed in moderation.

1. Increases heart health

The active compounds in red wine, including polyphenols, resveratrol, and quercetin, have been shown to have cardioprotective properties. Numerous cross-sectional, observational, and controlled studies show that drinking moderate amounts of red wine has beneficial effects on many different aspects related to cardiovascular disease.

This research shows that the antioxidant nutrients in red wine can slow the progression of atherosclerosis, a type of arteriosclerosis that occurs when there is accumulation of fat, cholesterol and plaque on the walls of the arteries.

One study, published in the   International Journal of Molecule Medicine , found that moderate alcohol intake, especially red wine, decreased cardiac mortality due to atherosclerosis, but people who did not drink red wine and people who drank too much red wine they had an increased risk of cardiac mortality.

There is also plenty of evidence to support the full benefits of resveratrol, which protects heart cells from tissue damage after a stroke, inhibits platelet buildup, and lowers triglyceride and cholesterol buildup. Resveratrol has also been shown to relax the coronary arteries, making it partly responsible for the benefits of red wine associated with cardiovascular disease .

Quercetin, one of the most important flavonoids in red wine, also promotes heart health by regulating blood pressure levels, reducing inflammation, and preventing oxidative stress.

2. Improves cholesterol levels

According to a study published in the  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition , wine consumption was associated with a significant increase in HDL cholesterol, and participants were able to notice that their levels improved between 11 and 16 percent.

Another study, conducted at Curtin University in Australia, found that regular consumption of red wine reduced the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women by 8 percent and increasing HDL cholesterol levels by 17 percent.

3. Combat the damage caused by free radicals

The accumulation of free radicals plays an important role in the development of chronic and degenerative diseases, which include cancer, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The antioxidants in red wine help counteract oxidative stress as they act as free radical scavengers, thereby preventing and repairing the damage caused by oxidation. Antioxidants improve the body’s immune defenses and reduce the risk of developing several serious health conditions.

Due to its ability to fight free radical damage, the resveratrol found in red wine has the ability to block the carcinogenesis process, including the stages of tumor initiation, promotion, and progression. Additionally, resveratrol is involved in regulating the body’s negative inflammatory responses.

4. Benefits of red wine in diabetes

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that red wine can slow the passage of glucose through the small intestine and eventually into the bloodstream, helping to prevent the spike in blood sugar levels that diabetes patients experience. type 2. This research shows that red wine, due to its benefits, can be part of a diabetic diet plan if consumed in moderation.

Both red and white wines were used to determine how well they could inhibit the activity of an enzyme responsible for triggering glucose uptake.

The researchers were able to find that red wine was clearly the winner, as it was able to inhibit enzymes by almost 100 percent, while values ​​for white wine were around 20 percent.

The effectiveness of red wine was so significant as it contains approximately 10 times more polyphenols (a type of antioxidants) than white wine.

In addition to these findings, the study found another benefit of red wine, which is that it does not have an effect on a pancreatic enzyme that breaks down starch and that patients need to avoid the side effects of blood sugar medications.

5. Combat obesity and weight gain

A study conducted at Purdue University found that red wine can help fight obesity. This is due to a compound found in grapes and other fruits (such as blueberries and passion fruit) called piceatannol, which has a similar chemical structure to resveratrol. According to the researchers, piceatannol blocks the ability of immature fat cells to develop and grow.

It was also found that it alters the timing of gene expressions, genetic functions, and insulin functions during the metabolic process of fat cells.

When piceatannol enters the body, there is a complete inhibition of adipogenesis, which is the process of cell differentiation. Piceatannol is very effective in the fight against obesity and weight gain because it is capable of destroying fat cells at the beginning of the cell differentiation process, thus preventing the accumulation of fat cells and, later, the increase in body mass.

It does this by binding to insulin receptors found on fat cells and blocking insulin’s ability to control cell cycles. It also blocks the activity of insulin to activate genes that are important in the later stages of fat formation.

6. It can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Research found that people who eat a Mediterranean diet, which consists of red wine, vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish, and olive oil, have a 28 percent lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and a 48 percent lower risk risk of going from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, there has been even more research on red wine specifically as a preventive measure and natural treatment for Alzheimer’s. According to research published in  Frontiers in Aging and Neuroscience , resveratrol can control the main features of Alzheimer’s disease and delay the development of dementia.

This is due to resveratrol’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, as it works as a neuroprotective.

The ingredients that make red wine beneficial

Red wine is loaded with antioxidants, particularly flavonoids like quercetin and resveratrol. These antioxidants stimulate many of the body’s processes, but are particularly revered because they improve heart health.

Bioflavonoids are made up of a large family of polyphenolic compounds that perform key functions in plants, such as combating environmental stress and modulating cell growth. One of the best known flavonoids that is present in red wine is quercetin.

Quercetin is one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet, and it plays an important role in fighting free radical damage, the effects of aging, and inflammation. Research has shown that quercetin can help control a number of inflammatory conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Infections
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Blood vessel problems
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Eye-related disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Skin disorders
  • Cancer
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Gout

The presence of quercetin is at least partly responsible for the benefits of red wine. Other flavonoids found in red wine are procyanidins, which are also found in high amounts in chocolate and apples. Research has shown that procyanidins have a powerful antioxidant action and the ability to increase immune function. (16)

Resveratrol one of the most powerful polyphenols

Resveratrol is another polyphene bioflavonoid antioxidant found in red wine. It is classified as a phytoestrogen because it interacts with estrogen receptors in a positive way.

It is believed to be one of the most potent polyphenols and the strongest protectors against free radical damage, cognitive decline, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, plants produce resveratrol, in part as a mechanism for protection and response to stressors within their environments, such as radiation, and fungal infections.

Red wine is probably the best known source of resveratrol due to the fermentation process that converts grape juice into alcohol. When red wine is produced, the seeds and grape skins are fermented in the grape juices, which has a positive effect on the levels and availability of resveratrol.

People consume resveratrol for a number of anti-aging and healing benefits. Research suggests that resveratrol can improve your health in the following ways:

  • Fight oxidative stress
  • Support cellular and tissue health
  • Protect against cancer
  • Promote circulation
  • Protect cognitive health
  • Prevent premature aging
  • Support healthy digestion
  • Improve energy levels and stamina
  • Protect against diabetes

Red wine vs. White wine

There is research to suggest that consuming wine in general is more beneficial than consuming beer or liquor. In a study in which more than 13,000 men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 were observed for 10-12 years, researchers found an inverse correlation to overall mortality in people who drank wine but not those who drank beer or liqueur.

Low to moderate wine intake lowered the risk of death from all causes, while similar liquor intake carried a higher risk and drinking beer had no effect on mortality.

Although studies like this show that drinking wine can be beneficial, is there a difference between red and white wine? For one thing, there is a higher concentration of antioxidants in red wine.

Antioxidant compounds are mainly found in the skin of red grapes, which are removed after the grapes are crushed in the white wine making process.

Although white wine also contains antioxidants that are present in the pulp of grapes, their levels are much higher in red wines.

Ethanol, which represents 8 to 15 percent of the volume of red wine, has a wide range of biological functions, since it alters the composition of cholesterol, alters the fluid balance, alters the activity of the metabolism of enzymes and has effects pro-oxidants.

However, the polyphenols present in large quantities in red wine can counteract the pro-oxidant effects of ethanol and even reduce oxidative stress. Drinks with low concentrations of phenolic compounds, such as white wine, cannot combat the pro-oxidant effects of ethanol.

Benefits of red wine vs. the disadvantages of drinking red wine

It is important to note that drinking more wine does not mean receiving greater health benefits. Despite the healthy properties of red wine and the benefits of red wine, alcohol itself is actually a neurotoxin, which means it can poison your brain and negatively affect your liver, among other bodily systems.

Although drinking in moderation can always be beneficial, chronic binge drinking can seriously damage your organs. Especially for people who choose to drink cheaper fortified wines that do not have as much nutritional value.

Another drawback of drinking any type of wine is that some ingredients, such as aroma enhancers, stabilizers, and clarifying agents cannot be found in nature.

These additives are used to improve the taste, color and texture of the wine, and to extend its shelf life. And unlike in the food industry, winemakers are not required to list the ingredients that are used to make their products, so you can never be sure exactly what you are drinking.

Sulfites and sulfiting agents are used in wines as a purifier and disinfectant. Research has shown that exposure to sulfites can induce a variety of negative clinical effects in people sensitive to these additives.

Reactions can include dermatitis, abdominal pain, diarrhea, asthmatic reactions, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Tips for drinking wine in moderation

Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of how much wine you’ve had in a day. Especially during festive dinners, while the family sits down to talk and celebrate. In these cases, you may have too many glasses of wine without realizing it. Here are some simple tricks you can use to keep your alcohol servings in check, even during parties, family dinners, or special events:

  1. Plan things ahead: If you know an event or dinner is coming up where you’ll have a glass or two of wine, refrain from drinking wine for the entire week of the event.
  2. Drink slowly: Enjoy and savor each sip, and try not to be distracted by drinking your wine.
  3. Don’t refill your glass unless it’s empty: sometimes we add a little wine to our glasses, even if it’s not empty yet. Better wait until you’ve finished the whole glass and then pour just a little more if you want.
  4. Drink your wine with water on the side: If you don’t have another drink at your disposal, you will start drinking the wine because it will make you thirsty and you will end up drinking too much. Keep a glass of lemon or mineral water aside, and alternate between the wine and water.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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