Wine, Grapes and Health
Recent findings have shown that moderate wine consumption can have positive health benefits. Historically, physicians have recommended wine for: treatment of iron deficiency, increase mineral absorption, and reduce incidence of troublesome sleep disorders.
The traditional use of wine with meals offers many benefits including: aiding the digestive process, stimulating the intake of nutrients, helping reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing cholesterol.
You may have heard the term "French Paradox", which refers to the phenomenon that despite per capita wine consumption and saturated fat intake in France being very high, levels of coronary heart disease in that country are relatively low. Researchers have discovered that one reason for the French people’s low rate of coronary heart disease is the presence of phenolic compounds or antioxidants such as resveratrol in wine, especially red wine.
Studies show that resveratrol lowers LDL cholesterol (the so-called "bad") while elevating HDL cholesterol (the "good") levels, which helps to clear arterial walls of harmful deposits (Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experimental Station, Vol. 58, No. 2). In fact, recent studies have found muscadine grapes and their resulting products contain more resveratrol and other antioxidants than any other types of grapes. Muscadine grapes contain antioxidants in skins, seed, pulp, juice and wine. See more about grapes and health in the Muscadine nutrition section.
Scientific researchers have found repeatedly that moderate daily wine consumption actually appears to be more beneficial than either zero consumption or over-consumption. A healthy lifestyle also includes regular exercise and a diet low in fat and high in fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains. For those adults who include wine in their lifestyle, wine should be consumed only in moderation, and preferably around mealtime. It should be part of social, family, celebratory or other occasions, but not as their central focus. Excessive consumption should be discouraged, and the choice of abstinence for religious, health or personal reasons should also be respected.
Additional resources about Wine Consumption and Health:
- Wine Institute: Wine Specific Research
- USDA Dietary Guidelines
- The French Paradox & Drinking for Health. Gene Ford, Wine Appreciation Guild, San Francisco 1993
- Society, Culture and Drinking Patterns Reexamined. Editors: David J. Pittman and Helene Raskin White, Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, New Brunswick 1991.
- Health, Lifestyle & Environment. The Social Affairs Unit and the Manhattan Institute, New York 1991
- Constructive Drinking. Edited by Mary Douglas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1987