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The Health Benefits of Wine

glass of red wine

Europeans have known for centuries that an excellent glass of wine pleases the body and soul, as well as adding subtle nuance and sophistication to a fine meal.  But as the list of health benefits derived from wine continues to expand through studies and research, it becomes clear that the gratification of the grape embodies more than just a pleasant sensation.  With American wine consumption, production, and recognition coming closer to rivaling that of European vintners, it’s clear that our enjoyment of the beverage is on the rise, a trend that doesn’t look to wane any time soon.  So if you’re on the fence with fruits of the vine, here are some reasons to appreciate the next bottle you buy for not only its aesthetic appeal, but the advantages it may give your heart, memory, bone density, and a host of other physical elements.

Red wine, in particular, is rich in the antioxidants that are common in the typical Mediterranean diet, which is known for its dependence on olive oil, fish, fruits, and vegetables.   Wine is also a staple, and it adds to the healthy appeal of the diet by killing the free radicals that can damage tissues and cells.  Various studies have also linked limited daily consumption to a lowered risk of heart disease.

Packed with substances known as polyphenols, wine can increase levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind!) by protecting the lining of the blood vessels from fatty plaque buildup.  Polyphenols are used in the making of wine for their influence over qualities such as astringency and color as well as chemical stability.  No need to overindulge… twelve ounces daily is sufficient to reap the benefits of heart health.  Other experts report a lowered incidence of high blood pressure in moderate drinkers.  Resveratrol is an ingredient found in the skin of grapes, believed to reduce bad cholesterol.  Red wine contains higher levels of resveratrol simply because white wine is fermented after the skin has been removed.

As long as you indulge in moderation, the probability of gastritis, ulcers, and even certain stomach cancers is reduced significantly, according to one British study.  Memory can also be considerably affected.  One or two ounces per day may help prevent the formation of blood clots associated with the decline of cognitive abilities and memory loss.  If you’re a woman, the fluted glass of your favorite Riesling or Sauvignon that enhances your dining experience may increase estrogen, which can slow bone loss and result in higher bone mass than those who abstain from imbibing.  And for reasons not clear, temperate alcohol intake seems to reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients.

Although most doctors won’t go so far as to recommend drinking wine for health benefits, the growing research is undeniably favorable.  One thing to keep in mind is that to regularly drink more than a reasonably balanced amount is to nullify any advantages, no matter what the studies say.  Alcohol is an addictive substance and in large quantities, is associated with a host of health problems.  Even if your aim is simply a delectable taste, a seductive aroma, and recreational relaxation, your rule of thumb should be to drink responsibly, or don’t drink at all.

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