Enjoy the flavor of red wine? It turns out it’s good for you, too! So next time you have a glass, here’s some of the health benefits of wine you’ll be getting.

It’s about the Polyphenols.

Polyphenols are compounds that are found throughout nature. In fact, well over 8,000 different polyphenols have been identified in foods such as tea leaves, chocolate, vegetables, fruits (like grapes in red wine). In addition to giving fruits and vegetables color and taste, polyphenols are also antioxidants.

The health benefits of wine come primarily from the skin and seeds of the grapes.

In these grapes are two powerful polyphenols, which each give wine a natural health benefit.

  • Resveratrol – Many clinical studies have looked at resveratrol and its health benefits. For instance, it’s resveratrol that many believe contributes to France’s low rate of cardiovascular disease, despite the nation’s diet preferences for frequent glasses of wine and high fat cheeses. Resveratrol’s antioxidant properties prevent plaque from forming in arteries, which protects against heart attacks, clogged arteries, and stroke.
  • Quercetin – Much like resveratrol, quercetin is a polyphenol in the grapes that make wine. Quercetin prevents oxidation of the (bad) LDL cholesterol in the blood, and it also battles against accumulation of blood platelets.

So how much wine should you drink per day?

There has been a ton of research on the health benefits of wine, such as the 10 year Copenhagen study that followed 6,051 men and 7,234 women ages 30-70. In this study, it was found that – compared to non-drinkers – those who drank 3-5 glasses of wine per day had their chances of cardiovascular death decrease by almost 50%.

But those who drank 3-5 servings of spirits had their risk of cardio vascular death increase by 34%. Beer drinkers saw neither an increase or decrease in mortality.

These results indicate that there is something specific to wine that gives a health benefit over beer or spirits.

The ideal amount of wine to drink per day is…

As we saw in the study, the subjects got the health benefits of wine with 3-5 glasses per day (that’s about a bottle a day). However, if you’re going to be drinking more than that, then there may be some good news.

Again, the data comes from France…actually from southern France. Red wine consumption is highest in the south of France in places like Toulouse. And even though red wine consumption is highest in this part of France, the rate of coronary artery disease is the lowest. Because more wine equals more polyphenols!

Is Red Wine Healthier than White Wine?

The studies didn’t zero in on white wine vs red wine health benefits. However, red wine contains about 6 times the polyphenols as compared to white wine. This is because the process to make red wine includes the grape skins, whereas making white wine usually only involves the juice of the grape (but no skin). And since the skin is where so much of the polyphenols hang out, it is natural for red wine to get more of the health benefits. A glass of red wine will contain about 200 mg of polyphenols, but there are only about 30 mg in a glass of white.

So next time you pour yourself a glass of wine, you can enjoy it for both the flavor and the health benefits. And on occasion if you’re inspired by the southern France lifestyle, you can benefit by enjoying a 3rd glass guilt-free. Cheers!

References for Health Benefits of Wine