As far as simple pleasures go, there’s little that beats unwinding at the end of a hard day with a glass of wine. While there are obvious risks from overindulging – those awful hangovers should be enough of a deterrent – could there also be some unexpected health benefits hidden inside that bottle of Malbec?
It’s certainly true that wine – particularly red wine – contains a number of antioxidants, such as quercetin and resveratrol, which may play a part in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Drinking an abundance of resveratrol-rich red wine has been touted as the reason behind the so-called “French Paradox” – the rates of coronary heart disease are low in France, despite citizens having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats.
But while the world is united in appreciation of wine’s palatable qualities, scientists and medical researchers are engaged in a tug of war. On the one hand, there are those who attest to wine’s health benefits; and on the other, those who remain unconvinced. This makes sorting the facts from wishful thinking a tricky business. But never fear – we’ve put together this useful infographic to help to cut through the hype.
While the debate on the benefits of wine – and alcohol in general – is far from over, this infographic draws on recent studies to uncover the amazing potential inside every bottle. And it all comes down to the miracle-element, resveratrol.
For instance, did you know that wine can help protect your eyesight? According to research by Washington University, drinking a moderate amount of wine could offer natural protection against age-related macular degeneration – i.e. weaker eyesight as you grow older – and even ophthalmic disorders that cause blindness. The researchers believe it’s due to resveratrol, which appears to inhibit the abnormal growth of new blood vessels – or angiogenesis – in the eye. These new blood vessels are a primary cause of eyesight-loss.
Drinking a glass of wine a day could also help keep the blues away, according to a PREDIMED study on Mediterranean diets – where wine is a near-constant feature. The Spanish research team found that light to moderate wine drinkers was less prone to depression than non-drinkers. Aside from acting as a social lubricant, the cardiovascular benefits of wine also work effectively in combatting depression, since heart disease and low mood share many of the same physiological causes and preventative measures.
Of course, red wine contains more than just resveratrol – so any health benefits come from little to moderate wine-drinking habits. If you’re not a drinker, then it’s not a reason to start. But if you do, then small amounts of wine can complement a healthy lifestyle.
To stay safe, men and women should avoid regularly drinking 3-4 and 2-3 units a day respectively (a standard 175ml glass of 13% ABV red, white or rose wine contains 2.3 units).
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