Health Benefits of Wine

3 June 2018

Health Benefits of Wine

Wine is an alcoholic drink many people enjoy dinner or to relax. It is an alcoholic beverage made from grapes which have been fermented without the addition of acids, sugars, enzymes, or other nutrients. In this process, yeast consumes the sugar in the fruit and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide. Different strains of yeast and different varieties of grapes produce different styles of wine. There are some varieties of wine that are not made from grapes and these include rice wines, and fruit wines such as plum, cherry, pomegranate, and elderberry. Red wines are made from the dark coloured grape varieties and involve the extraction of colour and flavour components from the grape skins. White wines, on the other hand, are made from the fermentation of non-coloured grape pulps, with the process not allowing any colouration from the skins. Because the skin of the grapes contains most of the antioxidants, red wines generally contain higher amounts of these antioxidant compounds. kinds of wines

Wine has existed for thousands of years with the earliest known examples dating back to Georgia (6000BC), Iran (5000BC), and Sicily (4000BC), although evidence has been found of a rice/grape-based fermented drink even earlier, in 7000BC in China.

There are different variants of wine including white wine, red wine, rosé, sparkling wines, and fruit wines, with red wine widely considered to be the healthiest, with the most beneficial side effects.

A commonly known phenomenon, called the French paradox, refers to the people who live in certain parts of France where red wine is more commonly consumed having lower percentages of deaths from coronary heart disease, even though they lead a lifestyle that is considered to have higher risks than those living in other developed countries. This paradox is believed to be due to the health benefits of red wine, particularly the positive effect it has on heart health.

The health benefits of wine only occur when consumed in moderation. The appropriate pour size for a glass of wine is considered to be a 5 ounce/148ml pour and the term “moderate drinking” refers to what medical experts define to be healthy. For women, it is 1 glass of wine per day, and for men, it is 2.


·        It contains antioxidants: Wine is full of antioxidants such as quercetin and resveratrol, which actively help protect the body against cancer by destroying free the free radicals which cause cell damage, diseases, and cancer. Quercetin is one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human body and is well renowned for playing an important role in fighting damage caused by free radicals, ageing, and inflammation. Resveratrol is classified as a phytoestrogen due to its ability to interact with estrogen receptors in a positive way. Resveratrol is also believed to be one of the most potent antioxidants for the protection against free radical damage, cognitive decline, obesity and weight gain, and cardiovascular disease. Wine also contains procyanidins which have high antioxidant activity and the ability to boost immune function. Red wine has generally always been considered the healthiest, and studies have also found that the phenols in white wine contain these antioxidants as well, just in lower levels.


·        Boosts the immune system: Moderate alcohol consumption can ward off infections and keep the immune system functioning. This is due to the antioxidants which help to lower inflammation and reduce the symptoms of colds and cases of flu.

·        Increases bone density: As age increases, bone density is lost and bones become more brittle. Red wine has high levels of silicon, which is beneficial for bone mineral density. It increases bone density and actively helps to combat and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

·        Reduces the risk of stroke: Alcohol in moderate amounts can reduce the risk of strokes due to its active role as a blood thinner, preventing and breaking up any blood clots that could lead to a stroke. This aspect is generally more beneficial to females rather than males. Red wine, in particular, contains phenols, (resveratrol in particular), which acts like a blood thinner similar to the effect of aspirin. The resveratrol in red wine is also effective at protecting the brain from stroke damage due to its ability to increase the levels of heme oxygenase, an enzyme which protects the nerve cells in the brain from damage.

·        Reduces the risk of heart disease: Not only does wine act as a blood thinner, preventing the risk of blood clots entering the heart and causing heart attacks, it also protects heart health by neutralizing the free radicals associated with heart disease. The tannins found in red wine contain phenols called procyanidins, which actively neutralize free radicals and have been found effective in preventing heart disease. Consumption of red wine has been scientifically proven to improve circulation and blood flow, by improving the health of blood vessels.

·        Lowers cholesterol: Wine has proven effective at reducing the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, while increasing the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol due to the presence of procyanidins in red wine. This results in a healthier heart and lower cholesterol level. Another benefit of this is that it reduces blood pressure, which also helps to keep the heart healthy.

·        Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes: The resveratrol present in wine has been shown to be effective in improving sensitivity to insulin. The ethanol found in wine also plays a key role in metabolizing glucose. Studies show that wine acts to slow the passage of glucose through the small intestine and into the bloodstream, helping to negate the blood sugar spike commonly experienced by type 2 diabetics. It does this by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that is responsible for triggering the absorption of glucose.

·        Reduces the risk of cancer: This is due to the high level of phenol antioxidants which actively neutralize and destroy free radical cells which can cause diseases such as cancer. The risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancer is also greatly reduced by drinking a glass of wine each day. Red wine in particular is beneficial because it contains resveratrol which fights against both heart disease and cancerous cells by cutting off the pathways that feed these cancerous cells and free radicals. Red grapes are the most efficient at suppressing the activity of aromatase, the enzyme that is used by breast tumours to produce their own estrogen. Red wine appears to be particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers due to the presence of flavonoids, as well as resveratrol. These chemicals also have the ability to counterbalance and combat androgens, the hormones that stimulate the prostate.

·        Improves cognitive function: Drinking a glass a day has been shown to improve brain function by a significant amount. There are chemicals present in red wine which prevent the brain’s neurons from dying off, resulting in a reduced risk and protection against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Scientists have found that when red wine passes through the stomach, it leaves behind these unique antioxidant compounds that can protect the brain’ neurons from getting damaged or destroyed. Note: the dosage of resveratrol in these studies were much higher than can be found in a glass of wine.

·        Anti-aging/increases longevity: Scientists have found that the resveratrol in wine activates a protein which acts as an anti-aging agent. The resveratrol increases the activity of sirtuins, (longevity pathways), which are a group of genes that protect the body against diseases and aging. This interaction increases overall health, and results in a decrease in mortality rate. anti-aging wine

·        Lowers blood pressure: Due to the blood thinning effect of wine, moderate drinkers have been found to have a 30% lower risk of heart attack. The grape seed procyanidins found in this drink actively reduce the levels of the compound that is responsible for the hardening of the arteries.

·       Reduces the risk of cataracts and improves eye health. The resveratrol found in wine is effective at preventing excessive blood vessel growth in the eyes resulting in the aided treatment of diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

·        Prevents acne: The resveratrol present in wine inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria with more effectiveness than some pharmaceutical medications. The antioxidants present also help to reduce the inflammation associated with acne. Ingesting the antioxidants has proven more beneficial than topical applications in creams.

·        Reduces the risk of depression: Studies have found that people who consume 2 to 7 glasses of wine a week were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with depression. This may be due to the fact that red wine boosts levels of omega-3 fatty acids which helps to boost mood.

·        Promotes oral health: The antimicrobial effect of drinking wine helps to protect the teeth and mouth against bacteria.

·        Regulates blood sugar levels: Red wine is abundant in polyphenols which interact with the cells that are involved in the production and storage of fat, and the regulation of blood sugar.

·        Protects against liver disease: Having one glass of wine a day has been found to decrease the chances of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).  People who consume 2 to 7 glasses of wine per week have been shown to have a 50% lower chance of developing NAFLD than people who do not drink wine. People who moderately drink beer or spirits may be at a 4 times higher risk of developing NAFLD.

·        Raises the levels of omega-3 fatty acids: Studies suggest that the moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, appears to boost the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells.

·        Reduces the effects of UV rays and reduces sunburn: Wine and grape derivatives can help protect the skin from UV damage. When sunlight comes into contact with our skin, it activates reactive oxygen species (ROS), which oxidise fats, DNA, and other large molecules. These then stimulate other molecules which cause harm to the skin. The flavonoids in wine actively inhibit the formation of the reactive skin species in cells which are exposed to sunlight.

·        Actively fights obesity and weight gain: There is a compound found in grapes called piceatannol, which has a similar chemical structure to resveratrol, and acts to block an immature fat cell’s ability to develop and grow. It has also been found to alter the timing of gene expressions, gene functions, and insulin functions during the cell’s metabolic process. It is also effective at preventing weight gain as it has the ability to destroy fat cells early in the process of cell development by binding to insulin receptors found in fat cells and blocking insulin’s ability to control cell cycles.

·        Improves gut health: As wine is a fermented product, studies have found that wine may have a prebiotic effect on the stomach, causing the promotion of good probiotic bacteria, and helping to improve the bacterial composition of the gut. It has also been found that alcoholic drinks with lower levels of ethanol, such as wine, stimulate stomach acid which is essential for the proper digestion of food.

·        Prevents food poisoning: Some studies show that drinking wine with your meal can make you less susceptible to food-borne illnesses, including Listeria.

·        Improves libido: Studies show that a regular, moderate intake of red wine can increase levels of sexual desire. It has also shown that with some women, they no longer have the need for lubrication.

·        Enhances exercise training and performance: Studies suggest that the high levels of resveratrol found in red wines mimic the effect of endurance training, aiding with everything from improved physical performance, and heart function, to building muscle strength.

White wine versus red wine, which is healthier?

red and white wineWhile white wine contains the same antioxidants, the levels of these are lower in white wine than red wine due to the way that it’s made. White wine is made with limited exposure to grape skins, which is where the majority of the antioxidants are found. The high amounts of polyphenols found in red wine also have the ability to counteract the pro-oxidant effects of ethanol and reduce oxidative stress. Drinks that are low in levels of phenolic compounds such as white wines have been found to be unable to combat the pro-oxidant effects of ethanol.

In a research study, both red and white wines were tested to determine their ability to inhibit the activity of an enzyme which causes the absorption of glucose. The study found that red wine was effective at inhibiting the enzyme by nearly 100%, while white wine’s inhibiting abilities only reached about 20%.

Scientists suggest that the darker the wine, the higher the antioxidant content, with pinot noir wines being found to be the type red wine with the highest levels of antioxidants.


It is important to note that the resveratrol found in wine is also found in the same or higher amounts in red grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts.

It is also important to mention that the health benefits associated with red wine can also be achieved through proper diet and exercise, as well as getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and quitting smoking.


Research also shows that non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic wines may also provide the same health benefits.

A study in Cape Town, Africa, showed that upon a reduction of alcohol content from 12% to 6% the levels of antioxidants present in the wine were not altered. It was concluded that the consumption of non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic wines offer the same beneficial health effects as regular wine, without the added risks associated with it.


It is also important to mention that the health benefits of wine are only effective when consumed in moderation and alcohol consumption exceeding these levels is associated with negative health impacts including cancers, liver disease, addiction, depression, arrhythmias, organ damage, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and pancreatitis.

Alcohol in itself is considered a neurotoxin that can poison the brain and damage the liver. Sulphates can also sometimes be used as purifiers in wines and cause reactions such as dermatitis, abdominal pain, diarrhea, asthmatic reactions, and anaphylaxis.

Cheaper, fortified wines, do not tend to have as much nutritional value, and as a result may contribute to negative health impacts due to their inability to combat the effect of ethanol on the body.