Is Red Wine Good For You? A Look at the Benefits and Risks

You may have heard that drinking red wine is good for your heart. But, you also may read that drinking alcohol is unhealthy for us — so which is it? The truth is, red wine can be both helpful in small amounts and harmful in excess. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of drinking red wine.

Health Benefits of Red Wine

Rich in Antioxidants
The grapes that make up red wine are rich in an antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a plant-based compound that fights oxidative stress in our bodies — the buildup of harmful molecules called free radicals. However, you would have to drink hundreds of glasses of red wine to reach clinically relevant amounts of resveratrol.

May Support Heart Health
Studies have shown that people who moderately drink red wine have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and poor heart health outcomes, like high blood pressure. Moderate intake would be one 5-ounce glass per day for women and two glasses per day for men.

May Reduce Risk of Some Cancers
Moderate red wine consumption may reduce the risk of certain cancers, likely due to its antioxidant content. Research has linked resveratrol to lower risk of breast, lung, and prostate cancer.

Health Risks of Excess Red Wine

Weight Gain
Drinking red wine — or any alcohol — in excess can lead to weight gain because alcohol is high in calories and can cause inflammation in the body, which leads to increased fat storage.

Liver Damage
Excess alcohol can harm the liver because it has to work so hard to detoxify the harmful compounds in alcohol. This can lead to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and, eventually, liver failure.

Increased Cancer Risk
Although some cancers show reduced risk with moderate red wine consumption, other cancers may increase in risk if consumed in excess, including cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon, and liver.

The Bottom Line

Red wine can be beneficial to our health — but only if consumed in moderation. A glass or two per day appears to be more helpful than harmful to health.

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