We’ve all seen those little snippy videos on social media, you know the ones. They typically claim that wine, usually only red wine, can be as good as going to the gym for an hour. Or they claim its antioxidants keep you youthful. Or that a glass or two is extremely beneficial for your heart, and liken it to smashing out a cardio session. To be honest, it’s tempting to believe these claims on face value, because hey - who wouldn’t want to be sitting around on the couch, drinking a beautiful glass of red instead of sweating up a storm at the gym?
We figured we’d do the research for you and figure out the claims, so you can drink your wine, but not necessarily expect to wake up the next day with the abs of a gym junkie.
Red wine and heart health
In moderation, red wine has long been thought of as heart healthy. It's possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol (pronounced res-veer-a-trol), have heart-healthy benefits. It’s believed that the alcohol and antioxidants may work together to help decrease the chance of having a heart attack.
The reason for this is that antioxidants may increase levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol), and protect against cholesterol buildup.
It’s important to note that any links between red wine and fewer heart attacks aren't completely understood... But many doctors still agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. So… tick! We’ll definitely cheers to that.
Wine and… weight loss?!
Washington State University conducted a study in July 2015, in an attempt to show that wine aids weight loss, thanks again to resveratrol. The compound, which is found in red wine, was shown to help convert ‘white fat’ into ‘beige fat’ - the latter apparently being easier to burn off.
Resveratrol is not the only magic substance here. It is one in a group of antioxidants called polyphenols (pronounced polly-fenn-ols) that are also found in fruit, and can increase the ratio of beige to white fat. If you want to up your intake of polyphenols, the bad news is that you’re better off eating more fruit than reaching for the bottle of red, because each glass is also setting you back about 500 kilojoules (or 120 calories).
Importantly though, a separate Harvard study found evidence that moderate drinking wasn’t necessarily linked with weight gain. Although it’s a win, it’s only a small one... there goes that gym myth.
Other surprising benefits of drinking red wine
Our good friend resveratrol has also been found to protect against certain cancers - namely head and neck cancer. A study published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2014 found that it kills damaged cells that can lead to cancer, whilst another study, published in 2014 in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Food & Function, found that the more polyphenols (and resveratrol) in the wine, the more the wine protects against colon cancer. Hooray!
Always forgetting where you put your keys? Wine could help - as it’s been shown to slow memory loss too! Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine found that resveratrol may help prevent age-related memory decline.
The most surprising thing we have found however, was that red wine can protect against dental diseases. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that red wine may kill dangerous bacteria in your mouth that could cause dental diseases, including cavities. Fantastic! Except we do, of course still recommend you still brush your teeth to make sure you keep your pearly whites… errr… white.
So although it’s not really the equivalent of hardcore interval training, red wine does have some surprising health benefits. It’s worth remembering though that wine is best enjoyed in moderation, and you can increase your risk of other diseases by drinking too much, too often - so keep it reasonable and ensure your 2018 is full of health and happiness.
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