Wellness or wishful thinking: Is red wine healthy?
Every so often a story will pop up attributing some sort of health benefit to red wine. Protection against Alzheimer’s, a treatment for cancer, a healthy heart, it does it all. The latest article gaining popularity on Facebook proposed that one glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour at the gym. Is there any truth to these statements? Or are we desperate to believe in a better world?
It all started in the 90s when research suggested a Mediterranean diet could lengthen the human life span up to 4.7 years. This has been attributed to the higher intake of red wine in Mediterranean countries and the chemicals that can be found in the drink.
Grapes, the basis for wine, contain antioxidants and a substance called resveratrol. Most of us will be familiar with antioxidants as they can be found in many popular products. Resveratrol is the supposed ingredient that makes red wine so special.
Resveratrol has been observed to prevent obesity and diabetes in rats. It is also said to improve heart function and muscle strength, which lead to claims saying red wine can be equivalent to a good gym session.
What these articles fail to mention, however, is that while tests have been done on rats and pigs no human trials took place. Furthermore, if a human were to drink wine for the sake of resveratrol they would need to consume over a 100 litres a day to have the same benefits rats experience.
Ultimately, wine does not contain enough of this miracle substance to have any real impact on the human body and after fermentation contains only 0.1% antioxidants. If you’re really in it for the health benefits you are better of just eating the yummy grapes.
Perhaps people just hear what they want to hear – or in this case read. Let’s admit it: didn’t you want to believe in Santa for an extra year just for the presents?
But there is a silver lining! All this research suggests that there is nothing wrong with a glass of red a day if you eat a healthy diet. And don’t forget one important benefit of a glass of wine: it is a perfect way to de-stress after a long day.
For further information on a balanced diet that will fit the occasional glass of wine visit the NHS website.