Red Wine And Health

I recently read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food,” in which he recommends everyone have a glass of wine with dinner. Wine plays a huge part in both the French and Mediterranean diets, and people living in these countries have substantially better health.

In his words, “Wine may not be the X factor in the French or Mediterranean diet, but it does seem to be an integral part of those dietary patters. Alcohol of any kind appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, but the polyphenols in red wine (resveratrol in particular) appear to have unique protective qualities.” The French and Mediterranean diets include a lot of plants that are rich in B vitamins, which alcohol depletes.

I’ve often heard red wine contains antioxidants that contribute to better health, but I wanted to do my own research. According to the Mayo Clinic, red wine contains several types of antioxidants that can help prevent against heart disease. These antioxidants are classified as polyphenols, and are known as resveratrol, quercetin and compounds called catechins.

Resveratrol is the most powerful of these antioxidants, and research has shown it can be linked to blood clotting and a reduction in inflammation. It helps protect your heart and reduces “bad” cholesterol. Resveratrol is also known to have anti-aging properties that defend cells against free-radical damage.

Most of the antioxidants found in wine come from the skin of the grapes. White wine contains antioxidants, and reduces the bad cholesterol levels. But red wine carries more antioxidants because the grape skins are left in contact with the juice. The darker the red wine, the more concentrated the antioxidant content. The varietals that are particularly high in these antioxidants are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.