Red wine is the gift that keeps on giving. If you’ve ever refrained because you were worried a glass might knock years off your life. Or that you were causing a cardiovascular catastrophe, allay those fears.
The bottom line is that drinking red wine in moderation has multiple health benefits.
From being packed full of antioxidants, to keeping your ticker ticking, there’s quite a few reasons why we’ve been drinking red wine for a millenia. So how might drinking a glass a day help keep the doctor (or cardiovascular surgeon) away?
Let’s delve into the health benefits of red wine.
Red wine good for antioxidants
We all know that free radicals are responsible for playing havoc with our bodies, so what is there to counter them? Antioxidants.
While antioxidants can be found in many different types of foods, they’re also abundant in red wine. In fact, scientists at the University of Barcelona have found that phenols in wine provide protection against cardiovascular diseases, and may prevent coronary artery disease, the precursor to heart attacks.
Red wine good for cholesterol
If it’s cardiovascular concerns you have, rest easy, the tannins that are prevalent in red wine contain phenols, which as we’ve pointed out above have been shown to combat cardiovascular disease.
While the link between red wine and reduced heart attacks isn’t completely clear cut, it’s thought that the reason red wine is so good for your heart is that the polyphenols which have antioxidant properties, reduce the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (AKA the bad cholesterol). If these are allowed to oxidize, they build up along the walls of our arteries, narrowing them, ultimately leading to coronary heart disease, the most common form of heart disease.
When you drink red wine in moderation, the polyphenols in it increase the levels of the high density lipoprotein (AKA the good cholesterol). This works to protect your arteries from getting clogged by removing the low density lipoprotein (AKA the bad one) from your blood vessels.
And the main polyphenol doing all this heart saving work? Resveratrol - try saying that after a glass of rouge!
It’s thought that when the phenol resveratrol reduces the levels of the bad cholesterol, in doing so, it reduces inflammation and prevents blood clots.
So why is it just red wine that’s good for your heart? Because resveratrol comes from the skin of grapes. And red wine gets its dark colour because the grapes are fermented with their skins on - unlike white wine, making red wine a resveratrol rich juice.
Of course you could just eat a bucket load of grapes to reap the same heart health benefits, but where’s the fun in that?
Which red wine is the best for your heart?
If you’re going to drink wine for your health, you want to make sure it’s doing its job right. So which are the best red wines to help prevent heart disease?
First off, let it be known that not all red wines are created the same. Pinot Noir is thought to be the healthiest red wine choice because it has the highest concentration of resveratrol. (Pinot Noir also has the lowest sugar content out of all the red wines too.)
Not a Pinot Noir fan? How else can you ensure your red wine is brimming with resveratrol?
- Avoid wine from big wineries. These players are producing wine for the masses. In order to guarantee consistency they have to play around with the production process. And that means shortening the wine’s natural aging time and reducing the volume of resveratrol in your glass. Instead, go for small batch wines, or if you can, organic or biodynamic.
- Go for new. This is about the only time you’ll hear advice suggesting you drink new red wine, but the truth is, the newer the wine, the higher its antioxidant levels. The longer a wine ages, the lower its cardiovascular benefits. So save the aged wine for a celebration and drink the new stuff regularly.
- Opt for organic. Organic wines don’t contain any artificial additives or preservatives, what you get is a whole bottle load of resveratrol.
Red wine good for the heart
Yes, excess alcohol consumption is bad for your health, but various studies have found that alcohol, when consumed in moderation, i.e. a glass of red wine of an evening:
- Raises the levels of the good cholesterol.
- Lowers the risk of blood clots.
- Protects arteries from damage caused by bad cholesterol.
- Protects the layer of cells that line your blood vessels.
So if you thought you were simply getting a knockout bottle of red plonk, what you’re actually doing is giving your heart a big high five.