Drinking moderate quantities of wine seems to have various health benefits… Today I am writing with my nutritional therapist hat on, asking myself how wine could work against heart disease, cancer and depression all at once.
First thing first, let’s get the most recent scientific findings:
- An antioxidant found in red wine destroys cancer cells from the inside, and enhances the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments (WebMD)
- Other antioxidants present in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) and protecting against artery damage (Mayo Clinic)
- A Spanish study of 5,500 individuals between the ages of 50 to 80 found that men and women who consumed 2 to 7 small glasses of red wine each week, had a 30% lower rate of depression compared to individuals who did not drink alcohol (Depression Anxiety Diet)
- Results suggest that red wine, white wine and grape juice all have high antioxidant potential to protect cellular structures against peroxidation reaction, owing to their rich phenolic contents. (Current Medical Research and Opinion)
- These results are not that surprising actually. First, wine is one of the traditional fermented foods, whose contained nutrients tend to be much higher than the raw foods. For instance, Sauerkraut contains 60 – 695mg of vitamins C per cup, while fresh cabbage has only 30mg. Given that 90mg for vitamin C is the recommended daily allowance (“RDA”), we could see how fermented foods would be nutritious. In this sense, it is quite reasonable for me to understand that wine contains high levels of antioxidants.
One of antioxidants’ major jobs in our body is to sweep up all debris inside/out of mitochondria. Mitochondria is the power house in each cell of the body, a tiny machine generating energy for all our body activities. Hence keeping mitochondria up to their full function is vital for all the body systems, from the the immune system to the digestive system, neurological system, circulatory system, etc. So naturally, foods which are high in antioxidants will have positive effects on mitochondria, resulting in a variety of health benefits.
Then, beside nutrients, I believe there is another reason for wine to be healthy. Wine is mostly favoured at dinner, a time to sit and eat with friends and family, unwinding a busy day. Generally Mediterranean diet is credited as an explanation for longer lives as people eat more fish, fresh fruits and vegetables and drink moderate quantities of wine. This also coincides with the South European culture of food as a very important and key component of social and family life. Just picture everyone getting together for the supper, sharing food and laughters with a glass of wine or two, around the Mamma, the goddess of kitchen, commanding all around the family table… I believe this must have significant health benefits, given how a busy and stressful life could impact our body. Our urban life is based upon how fast and efficiently everything has to be be done. I don’t think of stress as a negative (unless it becomes distressed), however at the end of a busy day, having a proper meal on the table and sharing with closed ones a nice glass of wine could not only be a pleasure of life, but also positive for your health.
Viva a glass of wine!