By Adrian Joele
From the time when the fruits of fermentation were discovered, wine has been a welcome guest. Not only at dinner tables, but also at weddings, religious rituals and even in doctors’ offices.
Not so long ago, however, scientists began to investigate the actual health benefits of drinking wine. And the findings they’ve uncorked are enough to make any wine lover raise his glass and say “Salut!”
When sipped in moderation, particularly red wine, can help lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries and heart disease. Also, studies discovered that it can kill the bacteria that cause food poisoning and travelers’ diarrhea. Obviously, experts don’t recommend that people start guzzling wine rather than sipping it or that people who don’t drink should suddenly start. Rather, what the evidence suggests is that moderate drinking can be a helpful addition to a healthy diet.
For many years, scientists were amazed that their French allies indulged themselves in cigarettes, buttery croissants, and fatty pates – and were still 2 1/2 times less likely to develop heart disease than their supposedly healthier American counterparts.
Researchers are still investigating the so-called French paradox, but it appears likely that the French have healthier hearts, at least partly because of their preference for red wine. These wines are rich in compounds that help lower cholesterol and prevent harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from sticking to the lining of artery walls – the process that leads to heart disease. Red wines also help blood platelets from sticking together and forming dangerous clots.
Red wine keeps your pump primed in complex ways. There are several chemical compounds at work, and some of them have more than one benefit. As a start, the alcohol in red wine may be beneficial. People who drink small amounts of alcohol seems to have increased protection from heart disease, studies prove.
According to research, the reason is that ethanol, or alcohol, in spirited drinks raises levels of good cholesterol, heart-protecting high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Beer and other alcoholic drinks have some benefits, but wine is the only one with health-promoting polyphenols.
The reason for its superior protection is that wine contains powerful flavonoids, like quercetin. Along with other potentially protective compounds, like resveratrol, it helps prevent the body’s dangerous LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. This, in turn, makes bad LDL cholesterol less likely to stick to artery walls.
Laboratory studies have shown that resveratrol slows down aging in mice, protect against weight gain, and boost endurance by improving the functioning of mitochondria – which are tiny power plants inside every cell of your body.
“Flavonoids in red wine are more powerful than vitamin E, which everyone knows is an important antioxidant,” says John D Folts, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the coronary thrombosis Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison.
Keeping LDL cholesterol under control is a good start against heart disease, besides helping to prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together. A study led by professor Folts and his colleagues found that when red wine was given to laboratory animals, it eliminated potentially dangerous clots, which can cause heart attacks and stroke. “Red wine performs double duty, giving you two important benefits at the same time,” says Dr. Folts.
It’s in the color
When we talk about the healing power of wine for a healthy heart, we are referring to red wine. A laboratory study at the University of California, Davis, revealed that red wines could prevent from 46% to 100% of LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, while white wines were less protective. In addition, laboratory studies found that white wine misses the blood clot-blocking ability.
The reason why red wine is so much superior to white has to do with winemaking. When vintners make wine, they throw everything in the vat – not just grapes but also the skins, seeds, and stems. They’re all mashed up to create a chunky mixture called must, and this contains the healthy flavonoids.
“The longer the must ferment in the alcohol, the more of these compounds release into the wine, according to Dr. Folts. With white wine, the must is taken out early so that the wine never darkens. With red wine, the must is kept in a long time, and the wine picks up a lot of flavonoids.”
UC Davis researchers have found that some red wines are also rich in saponins. Which lower heart disease risk by binding to cholesterol and preventing their absorption. Saponins may also cool body-wide inflammation, which could also lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Red wines contain 3 to 10 times more saponins than whites.
The richest source is red Zinfandel, followed by Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The two white varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay contain less. The saponin may come from the waxy grape skins and seems to dissolve into the wine during fermentation. Wines with the highest alcohol content also have the most saponin.
Wine may also maintain a healthy weight. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed drinking behavior and weight in 8,200 men and women. They found that those who enjoyed one or two alcoholic beverages a day were 54% less likely to be obese than non-drinkers. Non-drinkers and ex-drinkers had twice as much chance of becoming obese. People who have a glass of wine or beer every day usually have it with there evening meal. It could be that a drink replaces a later, high-calory evening snack. However, four or more glasses per day doesn’t make you super slim but it does give you a 50% more chance of becoming obese.
Wine protect against infection
Scientists from Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu tested red wine, white wine, and bismuth found that they subsalicylate against some of the meanest intestinal germs, including Shigella, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli. Both red and white wines were more effective than drugs for wiping out harmful bacteria.
For some people with a tendency toward migraine headaches, even a small glass of wine can cause a lot of headaches. Red wine contains substances called amines, which cause blood vessels in the brain to constrict and then expand. For sensitive people, this can result in eye-popping headaches.
Although white wine contains fewer headache producing amines than the red varieties, it doesn’t contain as many healing compounds.either. So if headaches are a problem for you, you may want to ask your doctor if a non-alcoholic wine will allow you to enjoy the great tastes without the pain.
Know your limit
The most important tip for getting the maximum health benefits from your wine cellar is knowing when to put your glass down. The daily limit is one 5-ounce glass a day for women and two 5-ounce glasses for men. Experts agree, however, that if you are tempted to overindulge, or if you have a personal or family history of alcoholism, you’re better off skipping a alcohol entirely.
Go for the Gusto
When you are scanning the shelves for the wine with the highest levels of heart-healthy compounds, go for the full-bodied, robust varieties. There is a close relationship between the level of tannin, the substance that makes wine dry, and the level of healing compounds in red wines. Three of the most heart-healthy wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Merlot.
About the Author
For over 12 years now I have been involved in nutrition and weight management. I like to share my knowledge with anyone who could benefit from it. Also, I like to help people solve their problems. For more info about nutrition and weight loss, visit: http://www.nutrobalance2.net
Article source: Amazines