It’s the festive season and we all know what that means, a lot of holiday overindulgence. Often, we tend to drink more over the festive season than we would in the usual course of events. Copious alcohol consumption is not a great idea. Some alcoholic drinks though, like wine (both red and white) have health benefits. So, if you do choose to grab a few drinks this festive season, wine might be the ‘better’ choice.
Could my glass of wine be good for me?
Red wine is well known for its benefits. Many medical professionals believe that a glass of red wine per day is a valuable part of a healthy, balanced diet. And many studies seemingly back this up. Red wine specifically has repeatedly been shown to reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease. However, these studies are associated with moderate red wine intake and. It’s always difficult to know when ‘moderate’ becomes too excessive. Excess consumption can negate all the benefits and might even cause health problems. So, the bottom line is yes, your daily glass of wine could be very beneficial for your health.
What exactly is red wine anyway?
Red wine is made from dark grapes which are crushed with the skin on and then fermented. The alcohol content of wine generally ranges from 12-15%. There are many variations of red wines and common varietals include Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, and Zinfandel. All of these varietals have been shown to have benefits when it comes to your health and wellness. Red wine contains a lot of powerful antioxidants. Many experts also agree that the alcohol in wine is a major contributing factor when it comes to health benefits.
What are some of the benefits?
Grapes themselves are rich in antioxidants which include resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins. These are what are believed to be behind red wine’s ‘healthy’ reputation. To expand upon this: Resveratrol is the antioxidant that is found in grape skin. According to Healthline, it is produced by many plants as a response to harm or injury. It has benefits such as “fighting inflammation and blood clotting, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer”. Having said that, the amount of resveratrol in red wine is too low to make that much of a difference. You’d need to consume several bottles per day to realize the benefit and that is obviously not recommended. If you want to increase your resveratrol intake, you can easily get a supplement that comes without the liver-damaging alcohol.
A small daily intake of red wine is linked to more health benefits than any other alcoholic drink. People who drink about 5oz (about 150ml) of red wine a day have a 32% lower risk of heart disease than their teetotal counterparts. Any more than that per day though and your risk increases dramatically. Another study found that, for middle-aged men, drinking 1–3 glasses of red wine per day on 3–4 days of the week, may reduce the risk of stroke.
Red wine has also been associated with a reduced risk of:
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes in women
Some helpful hints for mindful drinking
- Make sure you stay hydrated. Water intake is even more vital when you’re consuming alcohol as it can dehydrate the body.
- Make sure you eat and drink. Try not to drink on an empty stomach. We all know it can be tempting not to eat so you look particularly great in your dress. But having something in your system can help your body to cope with the alcohol. Good fats and proteins in foods like tuna, avocado, and banana can slow the rate of absorption of alcohol into the blood. This means you will be able to enjoy the party longer.
- Try and make every second drink non-alcoholic to give your body a break. Add some cool drinks, fruit juices, or non-alcoholic alternatives. This just allows your body to regain some more energy and hydration.
- Avoid mixing drinks. Whilst cocktails seem like a fantastic idea at the start of the evening, you’ll likely regret mixing drinks. You tend to get more drunk faster when you mix your spirits.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for an alcoholic drink with some actual health benefits, red wine is the way to go. It is, however, important to be aware of your overall alcohol intake. In Europe and America, moderate red wine consumption is considered to be 1–1.5 glasses a day for women and 1–2 glasses a day for men. Many health professionals also recommend having 1 or 2 alcohol-free days per week to allow your body to recover.
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Arkwright, A. 2019. How to survive party season: Christmas health hacks. [Online] Available at: https://www.culturewhisper.com/r/lifestyle/how_to_be_healthy_at_christmas_wellness_guide/12721
Bhatnagar, S. 2019. Red Wine Or White Wine: Which Is Better For Your Health?. [Online] Available at: https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/red-wine-or-white-wine-which-is-better-for-your-health-1834678
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