Red Wine Health Benefits – Or Too Good to Be True?
Red wine can be very good for your health. The keyword here is moderation. What exactly is it about red wine that is allows it to make headlines in health-conscious circles? It has many natural compounds that bring about beneficial effects to the human body. In addition to that, it is flavorful and has many varieties for consumers to choose from. Though studies continue to be performed on red wine, there are many components identified to be beneficial for our health.
The main benefit that we humans can get from drinking red wine is its effect on cardiovascular health. Studies report that regular consumption of red wine in moderation reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems. Resveratrol, found in red wine among other foods, is said to have a reductive effect on the growth of cancerous tumors. It may also help in nerve cell formation and thus can help treat degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Resveratrol is one of the many antioxidants found in red wine. Antioxidants are said to promote healthy cell growth and aging by disabling free radicals. Free radicals are chemical substances that are byproducts of various bodily functions that if left uncontrolled, could alter the cellular processes. By disabling free radicals, antioxidants prevent cell damage. Saponin and catechin are also antioxidants found in red wine. These are easily absorbed into the body and provide significant protection for the heart and blood vessels.
A large group of chemical compounds called flavonoids can also be found in red wine. These are also antioxidants, but they have significant effects on blood cholesterol. Our blood naturally contains low-density lipoproteins and high-density lipoproteins, or LDL and HDL for short. LDL is known as the “bad cholesterol” since it can form deposits in blood vessels. These deposits can reduce blood flow and cause clots to form, leading to strokes, heart attacks, thromboses, et cetera. HDL is known as “good cholesterol”, providing beneficial effects to the cardiovascular system at large. Flavonoids are said to decrease LDL and increase HDL, a double whammy for better heart health. Combined, they lower the likelihood of blood clots, fatty deposits, and improve health in general.
These are all phytochemicals, which are biologically active chemical compounds found in plants. The term “chemically active” refers to their active behavior in the complex of chemical processes in the human body. Red wine is indeed very rich in these phytochemicals.
With red wine sounding increasingly more like mythical panacea, you might think that it is okay to drink a lot of red wine. This is incorrect, and overdoing it can bring more harm than help. The alcohol in red wine can cause problems with the liver, kidneys, and of course the brain. The effects on the brain are pretty obvious, after all drunken people do not seem quite all there. Excessive alcohol can also cause heart arrhythmia, blood vessel constriction, and other health problems. Moderation is the key here. Do not over-indulge in wine, passing it off as “healthy” to justify your excesses. Drink to health, not to excess.