Is Wine Healthy or Unhealthy?

It’s a commonly touted claim that drinking red wine is good for your heart — maybe you even drink a little extra to get more of the benefits! But do the antioxidants in wine outweigh the potential risks of drinking alcohol? Let’s take a closer look.

Health Benefits of Wine

Wine is Rich in Antioxidants
Red wine, specifically, is rich in antioxidants because red grapes contain 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. On the other hand, white wine also contains some antioxidants, but not nearly as much as red wine.

Wine May Support Heart Health
Studies have shown that people who drink wine in moderation — usually red wine — have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure or triglycerides. FYI, moderate intake is one 5-ounce glass per day for women and no more than two glasses per day for men.

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

Health Risks of Wine

Wine Can Cause Weight Gain
Drinking wine — or any type of alcohol — in excess can lead to weight gain because alcohol is high in calories and sometimes high in sugar. Some brands will add sugar to their wine, but it’s difficult to know for sure because alcohol is not required to have a nutrition label. Plus, wine can create inflammation in the body, which increases fat storage and other metabolic concerns.

Wine Can Damage the Liver and Cause Cancer
Excess alcohol of any kind will eventually 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, liver failure, or liver cancer. Although some cancers show reduced risk with moderate alcohol 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
Millions of people drink and enjoy wine every day. And the truth is, like many things in life, wine can be helpful in small amounts and harmful in excess. One daily glass for women and two for men appears, so far, to be more beneficial than detrimental to health — just don’t go drinking an entire bottle!

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