Wine lovers love to hear about the many health benefits of wine:
- It raises good cholesterol
- It reduces bad cholesterol
- It reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks
- It reduces the occurrence of kidney stones in women
- It is enjoyable!
Can people who don’t love wine get the same benefits from drinking grape juice or eating grapes?
It turns out that they can get some of the benefits.
Here’s how it works. Red and purple grape products appear to reduce the risk of heart disease by relaxing the blood vessels, allowing blood to more easily flow. This benefit is most likely due to antioxidants called polyphenols found in the skin and seeds of grapes — especially dark red and purple grapes. One of the most important of these is resveratrol, which is believed to prevent blood vessel damage.
Y0u’ll find a much higher concentration of the polyphenols, including resveratrol, in red wine compared to white wine or grape juice. Why? Because in the making of red wine, the skin and seeds are part of the fermentation process. In the making of white wine, the skin is removed. In the making of grape juice, both the skin and seeds are removed.
While grapes contain the polyphenols, including resveratrol, it turns out that the pH value and temperature conditions of the stomach aren’t conducive to the extraction of these compounds from the grapes. So the resveratrol benefits you get when you eat grapes are minimal. Nevertheless, grapes are a good source of antioxidants. You also get the benefit of the fiber from eating whole grapes.
Now for a sobering thought from Stephen Barrett, M.D., in his article entitled “Resveratrol: Don’t Buy the Hype”. Barrett reminds us that “Resveratrol has not been tested in clinical trials, and most clinical trials of other antioxidants have failed to demonstrate the benefits suggested by preliminary studies. My advice is to ignore the hype surrounding resveratrol and eat a balanced diet that contains adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables.”
Richard Baxter, MD, adds to that on WebMD.com by saying, “It is difficult to sort out how much of the benefits [associated with wine] are from the chemical properties of wine vs. the types of behaviors that wine drinkers tend to have such as less stress in their lives. Wine is part of the Mediterranean diet… This diet is more of a lifestyle that includes drinking wine with dinner. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet is associated with longer, healthier lives.”
Bottom Line: If you drink wine, enjoy it, and enjoy the associated health benefits, whatever they may be 🙂
If you have additional information on the health benefits of wine that you can share with us, I would love to see it.