The health benefits of red wine have been examined for more than three decades now, and the results are in: there is strong, conclusive evidence that red wine, when consumed in moderation by people who are already drinkers, offers strong heart health and cancer-fighting benefits.

Kicking back with a nightly glass of vino may be just the ticket for a healthy ticker.

Multiple studies done since 1992 have demonstrated over and again the cardiovascular health benefits of red wine. How does it work? The flavinoids in the skin of red grapes help to lower “bad” cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, or LDL) and increase “good” cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, or HDL). These flavinoids also help prevent blood clots and protect your arteries from the effects of saturated fat.

Resveratrol is a powerful anti-oxidant that is also found in the skin of red grapes. This anti-oxidant has been proven to slow the signs of aging (anti-oxidants help combat the effects of free radicals in our bodies, one of which is wrinkles), protect against osteoporosis, and even fight diseases such as Type-2 diabetes.

But there’s more. Red wine, when taken in moderation, has been shown to fight cancer. Resveratrol attacks cancerous cells and damages their ability to fight back, making radiation therapy more effective, and has been shown to actually kill cancer cells. Another antioxidant, guercetin, may also kill lung cancer cells.

So how much is enough, and which wine works best? Studies indicate that no more than two glasses of wine per day are helpful (one glass for women, two for men), with a serving size being four ounces. Dry red wine such as cabernet sauvignon and petit syrah have the most flavinoids and offer the most benefit, with sweeter red wines and white wine having little to no flavinoids at all.

If you are not a drinker, this is not a call to start.

Some studies suggest that red grape juice and non-alcoholic red wine offer similar benefits and resveratrol is now also marketed as a supplement. If you have any conditions that will be made worse by alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure, or pain caused by arthritis, stick to grape juice or a supplement (after consulting your doctor!).

Take it to heart: will you practice preventative maintenance with a nightly glass of red wine?

Image by Mr. T in D.C. via Flickr


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