Brimming with antioxidants, red wine is often advertised as one of the more heart-healthy alcoholic drinks on the market. While it’s still important to drink red wine in moderation, many believe a glass or two of red wine could be more beneficial to their health.
In general, healthcare providers won’t recommend you start drinking any alcohol if you don’t drink already – even for the potential heart benefits of red wine. This is because the negative effects of excess alcohol often outweigh the potential advantages for your heart.
Furthermore, if you currently live a sober lifestyle, nobody should be encouraging you to start drinking. The health benefits of red wine are benefits that should be considered by someone who already drinks alcohol, and could perhaps switch their less healthy drink of choice to a glass of red wine.
If you drink beer, or you enjoy drinking a cocktail on occasion, switching to red wine could be a better option.
Why is Red Wine Considered a Heart-Healthy Beverage?
There are a number of reasons why experts consider red wine to be heart-healthy. Antioxidants in red wine can help to tackle free radicals, while increasing levels of the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) in your system.
One particular antioxidant in red wine earning significant attention from researchers is “resveratrol”. This substance has a unique ability to prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce low-density lipoprotein, and prevent common blood flow issues and blood clots.
Studies on the benefits of resveratrol are still ongoing, however. Some research shows this substance is crucial for reducing inflammation and protecting against heart disease, while other researchers say the antioxidant has no significant benefits at all.
Notably, it’s not only red wine with possible benefits for alcohol drinkers. The limited research into the positive impact of alcohol on the body means we don’t know for certain if red wine is any better for you than other alcoholic beverages. Moderate intake of alcohol can potentially help the heart, reducing cholesterol, and improving the function of blood vessels.
The key to success with these drinks is ensuring you moderate your intake, and stay away from alcohols with higher percentages of more dangerous substances such as sugar.
Which Red Wines are Healthiest?
Notably, while many people associate red wine with good health, some wines are better and healthier than others. For instance, “dry” red wines such as Pinot Noir and Merlot are fermented for longer than sweet wines, which means they don’t have as much residual sugar.
Red wines with high tannins are also associated with higher health benefits. Tannins are the antioxidants found in various teas and wines, which help to balance sugar levels, fight inflammation, and even protect against heart disease. Tannins come from grape skins in wines, and thicker grape skins generally have more tannins and polyphenols. This means darker wines are often richer in Tannins than lighter variations.
Interestingly, wines with high levels of polyphenols can also have a more bitter taste, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the complex taste usually encourages drinkers to slow down and sip their drinks, rather than gulping.
One of the best ways to ensure your choosing a healthy red wine is to buy an organic bottle of wine, with a darker color. Organic wines have fewer sulphites, commonly used in wine-making as a preservative. While these sulphites aren’t usually dangerous in small doses, they can sometimes cause allergic reactions and inflammation.
Organic wines also have fewer additives, including extra sugar. Excessive amounts of sugar in your diet can increase your chances of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Does the Wine Need to Be Red to be Healthy?
Most people agree that red wine is healthier than white wine. Red wine is the type of wine most commonly associated with heart health, thanks to its high percentage of tannins, polyphenols, and antioxidants.
However, as mentioned above, there still isn’t a lot of research to confirm whether red wine is better for your heart or health than other forms of alcohol. Certain alternative kinds of wine, such as mead, could also offer their own unique benefits.
Mead is unique compared to most types of wine because it’s made by fermenting honey. Research indicates there are a number of therapeutic benefits associated with the consumption of honey, which has strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Fans of mead also believe it could be a powerful tool for improving gut health, thanks to its potential probiotic content. Probiotics are regarded as an essential tool for supporting human health through the balance of the gut microbiota. Unfortunately, the potential benefits of mead for the gut may be outweighed by the impact alcohol can have on the natural balance of the human body. However, Mead is a type of wine that is higher in calories and carbohydrates than regular wine.
Further research into all alcohol types and the benefits they may be able to have on the heart and other parts of the body is necessary to determine which drinks are the most advantageous.
Different Types of Heart-Healthy Red Wine
Wines come in a variety of flavors, strengths, and sometimes with different unique ingredients mixed in. However, there are some red wines which have more of a positive impact on your health than others. Here are some great options to consider.
- Pinot Noir: Considered the healthiest red wine by many, Pinot Noir is made with grapes that have a very thick skin. Though the tannins in this wine are lower than in other reds, the levels of resveratrol are much higher. Often, sugar levels in Pinot Noir are also low.
- Sagrantino: These wines are made with a special grape from a specific region of Italy (Umbria). The grapes are best-known for their high levels of antioxidants, as well as their rich and intense flavor. Sagrantino can also have high levels of tannins.
- Merlot: One of the more common red wines on the market, Merlot is a medium-bodied wine with a high level of both procyanidin and resveratrol, two substances which help with lowering cholesterol and improving heart health.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: This full-bodied wine contains notes of spice and dark fruit, as well as some strong cardiovascular benefits. The unique flavonoid makeup in this wine helps to stimulate better cell health.
- Barbera: Another red wine with high levels of resveratrol, Barbera is a surprisingly affordable red wine with plenty of potential heart benefits to offer. This wine comes from the Piedmont region of Italy.
- Malbec: A smooth and easily accessible red wine for many fans, Malbec has high levels of antioxidants, linked to immune health and heart health. Grown in France and Argentina, Malbec grapes have thick skins and plenty of tannins.
- Tannat: A full-bodied red wine with dark fruit notes, French Tannat grapes have a lot of tannins, which can lead to a more intense flavor. In some cases, the drink is even blended with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Nebbiolo: Another wine from the Piedmont region, Nebbiolo contains high levels of crucial polyphenols, including procyanidin. The fruity red wine also contains high levels of melatonin, which can make it excellent for people who have trouble sleeping.
Should You Drink More Red Wine?
The potential benefits of red wine on heart health are still being studied, along with the benefits all alcoholic drinks might be able to offer. More research needs to be conducted on the subject to know for sure. While some studies suggest that those who drink moderate amounts of red wine have a lower risk of heart disease, there are a number of pros and cons to drinking alcohol in general.
It’s important to note that non-drinkers also have a much lower risk of various health problems and diseases, so if you don’t drink alcohol already, it’s not a good idea to start consuming red wine for the few potential benefits. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of mood disorders, heart failure, weight gain, high blood pressure, and certain kinds of cancer.
If you already drink, and you’re thinking of switching to red wine, this switch could be beneficial, but moderation is key. One glass per day is more than enough for women and men of all ages.