The benefits of red wine can seem, at times, magical. They’ve certainly been receiving positive press for the last several years.
Red wine’s good rap even survived a large scandal brought on, a couple of years ago, by the discovery that a famous researcher falsified data in the goal of exaggerating wine’s positive effects on heart health. Since then, many more studies have come to light, encouraging many to boast about the fermented grape drink.
But, is red wine as good as it’s touted to be or not worth the fuss? With the holiday season fast approaching, I thought it particularly well suited to answer this question and, by the same token, give you the low-down on this popular beverage. Read on to find out what the newest science has to say about its purported benefits!
Wine Is Better Than The Gym
You may have heard that resveratrol (the polyphenol found in wine, but also in grapes, nuts and dark chocolate) was found to improve heart, muscle and bone function in the same way they’re improved as a result from exercising. So, does this mean you should turn your weekly gym sessions into happy hours at the nearest wine bar? At the risk of bursting your bubble; not exactly!
Although these claims are supported by research, an often unmentioned factor is that said research was done exclusively on animals, more precisely, rats. Unfortunately, researchers were unable to reproduce the same results in humans. As I’ve often mentioned in the past, animal research cannot be directly extrapolated to humans. And anyone pretending otherwise should not be trusted!
On the other hand, recent research found that, whereas exercise training effectively improves cardiovascular health parameters in aged men (i.e. blood pressure, blood lipids, maximal oxygen uptake), resveratrol supplementation can blunt these effects.
Luckily, the exaggerating reports of red wine’s annulling effects of exercise are similarly overblown. In this case, what is often not mentioned is that subjects received resveratrol supplementation in the form of pills (not wine) with a dosage equivalent to the resveratrol found 250 glasses of red wine per day! How likely is that to happen in real life?
Wine Helps You Remember Things
Ever wish you could easily remember where you put those darn keys? Well, according to a 7-year study of more than 1400 individuals 65 years and older, a glass of wine with your next meal might be just what you need! Researchers found that compared to no drinking, both minimal and moderate drinking were associated with lesser age-related cognitive decline.
A more recent study performed on more than 3200 dementia-free participants found that people over the age of 75, who indulged in a 5oz glass of wine or a pint of beer per day, were almost one third less likely to show signs of dementia at the end of the three-year study period. The researchers concluded that, in agreement with studies including younger age groups, light to moderate alcohol consumption could have a protective effect against dementia.
Wine Fights Acne
How can a glass of velvety red help clear up your skin? This rumor stems from recent research on the acne-reducing effects of the well-researched polyphenol; resveratrol.
If you’re wondering “what’s the catch,” your instinct is right since the research fuelling this rumor investigated the effect of applying resveratrol directly on the skin (as a gel) rather than ingesting it from a glass of your favorite vino.
And before you ask, no, there’s no evidence that soaking in a tub of Pinot noir is equally as effective!
Wine Fights Off Depression
Can a glass of Cabernet rid you of the fall and winter blues? Spanish researchers sure seem to think so! Their latest report explained that men and women between the ages of 55 and 80, indulging in 5 – 15g alcohol per day (the equivalent of up to 4oz of wine per day) were less likely to suffer from depression. The protective effect of wine remained the same, even after accounting for other social factors such as marital status, smoking and diet.
At first glance, pretty promising indeed! However, looking a little further into this research paper reveals that several of the authors are either part of the board of or receive funding from the likes of the “Research Foundation on Wine and Nutrition,” the “Beer and Health Foundation” or the “European Foundation of Alcohol Research”.
Although this doesn’t falsify their results, I would caution you to look at them through a critical lens, especially given alcohol has long-been identified as a risk factor for depression.
Wine Keeps Your Liver Healthy ?!?
Surprised to read about a potential benefit of alcohol on your liver? I can’t blame you, especially since the negative effects are so well publicized. Similarly to it’s effect on depression, the key in this statement may, once again, have to do with quantity.
Recent research reports that drinking up to 1 glass of wine per day (as compared to no alcohol at all) can decrease the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by up to 50%. This protective effect seems to remain constant after adjusting for age, sex, race, education, income, diet, physical activity, BMI and other markers of health status. Please note that no support was provided for drinking larger amounts.
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