Health, fitness and Food
The Unexpected and Remarkable Health Benefits of Red Wine
As a child, you might have accompanied your parents while they buy wine for a dinner party or gathering and wondered why it took them so long to make a decision. After all, there are only three choices! Red, white, or that pink one, which you later learned was known as rosé. It’s only once you grew up and realised that while there are just a few different “colours” of wine to choose from, the variations therein are seemingly without limit. As you reached adulthood, and the feeling of invulnerability that comes with youth fell away, you became all too aware of the necessity of looking after yourself. This is why it can be such a pleasant surprise that something that can be so pleasurable can have remarkable health benefits. Do you know just how good red wine can be for you?
Red wine is a rich source of polyphenol, which is a powerful antioxidant. Polyphenol gets to work in your bloodstream and helps your blood vessels to flow more freely, which is a great way to reduce clotting, and therefore the chance of heart disease. The antioxidants in red wine also combat potential infections, meaning that regular consumption (around 14 glasses per week) means you’re around 40% less likely to catch a cold.
Keeping Your Mind Sharp
Certainly, too much wine can lead to a rather sore head the next day, but enjoying red wine in moderation is fantastic for keeping your brain in tip top shape. The skin of red wine grapes contain resveratrol, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound. Resveratrol is known to suppress the growth of beta-amyloid protein, an excess of which is a signifier of Alzheimer’s disease. Resveratrol also helps to moderate blood sugar levels, potentially reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A Natural Miracle
Once consumed, the human body converts resveratrol to a compound known as piceatannol, which is one of the body’s miracles. Piceatannol blocks a number of unpleasant things from happening, such as reducing the growth of fat cells by attaching to their insulin receptors, stopping them from forming. Studies have also shown that piceatannol blocks LMP2A, an enzyme that contributes to non-Hodgkins lymphomas (a blanket term that covers many types of blood cancer) and even leukemia.
Red Wine = Healthy Teeth
Ongoing consumption of red wine can leave your teeth with a less than white tint, and yet it’s amazingly good for your teeth. Red wine strengthens your tooth enamel, decreasing the risk of Streptococcus mutans breaching your teeth. Streptococcus mutans are a naturally occurring bacteria that are in your mouth, among other places, and can cause tooth decay. While you want Streptococcus mutans in your mouth, trust us, you really don’t want them making their way inside your teeth. Some whitening toothpaste can easily overcome the adverse colour that can come with drinking red wine.
You Don’t Actually Have to Drink It
The health benefits of red wine are numerous, and yet you might be faced with a problem. What if you don’t actually like it? While cooking with red wine decreases the alcohol content and antioxidants, they’re still present in high quantities. Hungarian wines can be robust and are excellent in sauces and stews. Try adding a full-bodied red like Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikavér) for an amazing flavour that comes with all those great health benefits. Your local stockist will have a few Hungarian wines to choose from, or you can easily find them online.
A fairly recently discovered additional benefit of resveratrol is that it not only can keep your mind sharp, but it can help you to maintain balance. A US study has shown that resveratrol can significantly improve actual physical balance, which could reduce instances of the elderly population injuring themselves by falling. It seems that red wine can really help to alleviate some of the less pleasant aspects of aging.
It’s fun to think of French scientists feeding red wine to worms, but the actual research was probably more involved than that. Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have discovered promising signs that the resveratrol found in red wine can actually extend life. Worms used in the study had their life expectancy extended by 60%, and they not only lived longer, they were in fact more energetic during the older stages of their lives. The comparable life extension in humans is not so straightforward, although scientists are working to establish a link. In the meantime, that delicious glass of red wine might just be helping to extend your life…