Red Wine – More Than Just Empty Calories?

Though many diets choose to exclude red wine due to its high calorie content and appetite inducing effects, many nutritionists are now admitting that the alcoholic beverage does have some redeeming qualities. Indulging in a glass or two from time to time could, in fact, be beneficial to your health.

Red wine, unlike its counterpart white wine, is produced with the skins, seeds and some twigs, making it a great source for the antioxidants (or flavanoids) resveratrol, polyphenols and anthrocyanidins which are naturally found in grapes and their vines. Citizens of Mediterranean countries, where red wine consumption is high as well as that of fatty meats and cheeses, show a surprisingly lower rate of heart disease which some experts are linking to the unique nutritional merits of the drink.

As the research continues, red wine is proving to have a long list of healthful properties. It has been shown to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels while helping to prevent the formation of LDL (bad cholesterol). Resveratrol has been shown to prevent clotting in blood vessels and might have some anti-cancer benefits as well.

Those who are not prone to drinking alcohol will glad to learn that they can get the same antioxidant effects from non-alcoholic red wine and purple grape juice. Red and white grape juices are insufficient in the same way as white wine, lacking the components brought in from the grape seeds and skins. The same is true for simply eating grapes. The benefits are not nearly the same.

These studies do not however condone anything more than very moderate red wine consumption. The health risks of overindulging in alcoholic beverages far outweigh the levels of good red wine can provide.

The free radicals produced after drinking alcohol counteract the antioxidants in the wine. Furthermore, the quantities necessary to truly inhibit blood clots is more than enough needed to get intoxicated, making grape juice or non-alcoholic red wine a more health conscious choice. There are also many supplements on the market which incorporate red wine flavonoids.

So though a glass from time to time is acceptable, red wine is not the end all answer. For true heart health it is important to also consider alternatives which provide similar benefits.

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