Wine has been a part of international cultures since we figured out fermentation makes grape juice more fun. We’ve come a long way since then. According to OIV in their last State of the World Vitiviniculture report, we consumed an estimated 244 million hectoliters of wine globally in 2019! Yes, that’s a lot. Perhaps while contributing to this global consumption, you found yourself wondering…is wine good for you? And wino, we have great news for you.
In fact, wine is good for you. Yet there are some caveats to benefiting from the healthy aspects of our favorite juice. Read on to learn how to actually reap wine’s healthy benefits. Plus, discover the five healthiest wines you should be drinking.
Drinking in Moderation
Thankfully, enjoying wine and living a healthy lifestyle are not mutually exclusive. You can have your wine and drink it, too! However, drinking in moderation is essential to actually obtaining wine’s healthy benefits. Basically, that equates to consuming 1-1.5 glasses of red wine per day for women and 1-2 glasses for men with 1-2 alcohol free days per week.
Elevated amounts of alcohol intake increases your risk of high blood pressure, liver and pancreas diseases, cancer, obesity, weight gain, and more. So, always do your best to drink in moderation.
Red Wine Health Benefits
Considering wine is made from fruit, it’s logical to assume there must be certain health benefits to drinking this fermented juice. Yet certain wines are healthier than others.
Red Wine vs. White Wine
First, the majority of wine’s beneficial properties originate in grape skins, meaning red wines are better for you than white wines. This is thanks in large part to the varied winemaking processes of each.
White wine is typically made by pressing grapes off their skins and fermenting only the juice. While red wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes with their skins. Then, alcohol and heat during red wine fermentation extract color, flavor, and tannins from the skins, as well as compounds beneficial to our health. These healthy compounds include antioxidants, anthocyanins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and more.
More often than not, red wines are also fermented completely dry. Therefore, they typically contain less sugars than white wine.
So, if you’re going to drink a glass of wine, reach for red. If you must have white wine, do your best to choose one with no residual sugar. For an alternative lighter option with some of red wine’s health benefits, enjoy a glass of rosé. Since rosé has spent some time on the skins to obtain that pink color, it will have similar, though significantly less, health benefits as red wine.
Why Is Wine Good For You?
Drinking red wine in moderation is linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and early death. Additionally, research has shown moderate red wine consumption reduces your risk of cancer and dementia, lowers blood pressure and “bad cholesterol,” and decreases your risk of depression. There are numerous naturally occurring compounds in wine that provide these benefits.
Red wine contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which boast a number of health benefits. These antioxidants help to protect our body’s cells from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals in our system. This oxidative stress is linked to aging, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Resveratrol is one of red wine’s many antioxidants, which has an extensive number of health benefits. It’s recognized for preventing damage to blood vessels, reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol, boosting brain health, and fighting inflammation from toxins and allergens.
Anthocyanins are red, blue, and purple pigment compounds in the flavonoid family. Berries, flowers, grape skins, and other fruits and vegetables contain them. Anthocyanins have many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including their ability to lower high blood pressure and help manage weight loss.
Flavonols are another type of flavonoid, a beneficial compound in fruits and vegetables, found in wine. Again, these help fight inflammation and serve as antioxidants. Flavonols assist in cardiovascular disease prevention and support the formation of healthy blood vessel walls.
Fruits, vegetables, and certain medicinal plants contain these natural phytochemical compounds. Catechins are one of wine’s polyphenols that have beneficial health effects even in small doses, i.e. drinking one glass of wine per day. They’re linked to prevention of a number of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and delayed tumor development.
The 5 Healthiest Red Wines
Pinot Noir has the highest concentration of resveratrol antioxidants. Additionally, while most red wines have low or non-existent residual sugars, Pinot Noir often has a lower initial sugar pre-fermentation. This results in lower alcohol and less calories in the finished wine compared to a higher alcohol wine like Cabernet Sauvignon.
As an especially thick-skinned variety, Malbec claims higher antioxidant levels than other red wines especially in terms of resveratrol. This variety has two to four times the amount of anti-inflammatory, health boosting antioxidants than other popular red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Cabernet Sauvignon’s high polyphenol content and tendency towards a dry style make this another healthy red option. Specifically, Cabernet Sauvignon has a higher concentration of proanthocyanidins, known for their antimicrobial properties and free radical scavenging activity.
Merlot is another dry red rich in resveratrol antioxidants. Notably, drinking Merlot in moderation improves gut health, prevents heart disease, and lowers the risk of blood clotting by increasing good HDL cholesterol levels.
Cannonau – Grenache from Sardinia
While Grenache touts similar health benefits of other red wines, Grenache from Sardinia, aka Cannonau, offers one of the healthiest red options. Cannonau has two to three times the number of flavonoids as other red wines, containing even more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A daily glass of Cannonau is one of the reasons Sardinia is amongst the blue zones of the world with a higher concentration of centenarians or people who live 100 years or more.
Ready to incorporate red wine in moderation into your healthy lifestyle? You just might live to be 117 years old like this woman who claims red wine is her secret to longevity.