In addition to providing great pleasure, red wine is a great health booster. One glass each day is ideal for most people, although men with large physical builds may go up to two glasses a day without having to worry about too much alcohol. Numerous studies about the health effects of red wine prove that red wine is really good when consumed in moderation. The drink is gaining the reputation of being the heart's best friend. It seems, the potential health benefits of this drink are manifold.
Heart disease: One to two glasses of wine per day decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50%. Besides ethanol (alcohol), which is a vasodilator, red wine has other substances with preventive properties, such as antioxidants, tannins and phenolic components. Red wine promotes the increase of HDL cholesterol, the ‘good’ cholesterol.
Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is described as a potent endothelium-released vasoconstrictor peptide, and its high-production is seen as a key factor in the development of vascular diseases and arteriosclerosis. Research indicates that red wine polyphenols may inhibit ET-1 synthesis.
Cancer: Red wine may also help prevent some forms of cancer. Research by two molecular biologists at the University of North Carolina, published in June 2000, reports evidence that the substance resveratrol, found in grape bark, can control the genetic mechanism that helps prevent and treat cancer. The substance promotes the death of cancer cells by inhibiting a specific protein. In 1997, a mouse study done at the University of Illinois, Chicago, showed that resveratrol reduced the incidence of skin cancer in these animals by as much as 98%. Quercetin, which is present in red wine, also is believed to have anti-cancer properties.
Ulcer: Research has shown that red wine helps prevent stomach ulcers. According to a 1999 study involving 1800 people, those who drank one glass of wine per day had 7% fewer bacteria that cause gastric infections (Helicobacter pylori). The study found an inversely proportional relationship between amount of red wine consumed and the risk of gastric ailments.
Neurological health: Research suggests that red wine consumption protects against Alzheimer's and dementia. It has been found that those who drink it moderately have a 75% lower chance of developing the disease than those who don't.
Anti-aging effects: The high concentration of antioxidants helps protect the body against undesirable chemical reactions, especially the oxidation of cells. It may also play a role in the prevention of erectile dysfunction. Researchers from the Harvard University and the University of East Anglia found that regular consumption of foods rich in certain flavonoids can help men under 70 be spared from the condition.
Weight loss: A 1997 study from the University of Colorado concluded that healthy men can drink up to two glasses of wine daily without gaining weight, while a glass of wine can help double weight loss in obese people. Another study at the Oregon State University found a strong association between weight loss and a specific type of red wine made from Muscadine grapes.