Does drinking red wine provide any health benefits? {Just a Pinch}

Does Red wine provide any health benefits?

Hi, everyone! Jet lag is real, so I’ve lined up one more awesome guest blogger for you! Lauren is a fellow Seattle-transplant who blogs at Just a Pinch on topics including nutrition, graduate school, and life in Seattle (including hiking!). I love her blog for her research-based posts that answer some of our most pressing nutrition questions, such as the pros and cons of protein supplements. Today she’s addressing the nutritional benefits of red wine, which as you all know, I’m quite fond of. Thank you, Lauren! 

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m Lauren and I blog over at Just a Pinch. Thank you so much to Laura for allowing me to indulge in one of my favorite past times: talking about nutrition! I’m a first year graduate student at the University of Washington studying to become a Registered Dietitian.

When Laura asked if I could write a guest post, I thought it would be fun to share one of the most commonly asked questions I receive: “Does red wine provide any health benefits?” I used published research (cited below), as well as information I learned during my first quarter at UW, to write this post. Enjoy!

The “French Paradox” refers to the low rate of cardiovascular disease in France, despite a diet high in saturated fats and wine. The term was coined in the 1980’s and spurred research on the health benefits of red wine.

Does Red wine provide any health benefits

Scientists were wondering: how do the French do it?!

The ‘magical’ ingredient in red wine is resveratrol, a compound found in the seed and skin of grapes, berries, peanuts and cocoa powder. The concentration of resveratrol is higher in red wine than white white because during the red wine making process, the must, grape skin and seeds are in contact during the whole fermentation process.

Resveratrol has an antioxidant capacity, which means that it can help control or eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can attack DNA, proteins, and polyunsaturated fatty acids and can contribute to a variety of conditions and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and complications of diabetes mellitus, among others.

There are thousands of published studies that aimed to find the potential positive health benefits of resveratrol. The main conclusion: more research is needed.

Many of the initial studies on the health benefits of resveratrol were performed on mice. In order for humans to ingest the same amount of resveratrol as the mice, we would need to drink a considerable amount of wine (imagine around 4 bottles/day).

While several epidemiological studies have found an association between wine consumption and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, data also shows that people who drink red wine are also associated with a higher socio-economic status, healthier behaviors, and less risk factors for major illnesses. It is also not clear what components of red wine may increase health benefits, so we cannot definitely say that resveratrol in red wine improves health.

Bottom line: everything in moderation!

As with many aspects of nutrition, more research is needed in order to study the benefit of resveratrol in red wine. When companies promote red wine and its health benefits, just remember that they have an incentive to sell the product to you! 

Artero, A., Artero, A., Tarín, J., & Cano, A. (2014). The impact of moderate wine consumption on health. Maturitas, 3-13.
Smoliga, J. M., Baur, J. A. and Hausenblas, H. A. (2011), Resveratrol and health – A comprehensive review of human clinical trials. Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 55: 1129–1141. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100143.
Xiang, Limin, Lingyun Xiao, Yihai Wang, Haifeng Li, Zebo Huang, and Xiangjiu He. “Health Benefits of Wine: Don’t Expect Resveratrol Too Much.” Food Chemistry: 258-63.

[Tweet “Is red wine actually healthy for you? via @thisrunrecipes @heyricecake #fitfluential #wine #nutrition”]

Do you enjoy red wine?
What’s your drink of choice?


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19 Responses

    1. Moderation is so important! I love how you say you would drink it anyway – there’s something to be said about enjoying small indulgences as part of a healthy diet!

  1. well… I love wine. But i studied it in college. And living abroad. YOu can’t binge on it, it totally ruins the experience. It’s why i think 1 glass a day is AMAZING. sometimes 2 if it’s just that good of wine. But it takes me like hours to sip. <3

    1. I so agree with you on that one should not binge on it! Anything more than 2 glasses seems to equal wine headaches for most people. Studying abroad was an eye-opener for me in how to drink wine – the European way is to savor every.last.drop for a long time! 🙂

  2. I am definitely a wine lover! But I try to enjoy in moderation…for my health and because wine makes me sleepy! Great post…thanks for the info!

  3. So true – everything in nutrition is debatable and needs more research. I’ve gathered through my studies that it can lower BP for some (in moderation, ha) but too much can have adverse effects, obviously 🙂 Thanks for sharing and good luck with finishing up your nutrition program!

  4. Everything in moderation seems to be the consensus on so many things having to do with nutrition and health. I agree and say have the glass of wine! I enjoy wine both red or white depending on the season. I tend to want more red in the fall and winter. Thanks for the information!

  5. Great post Laura! (and Lauren!). I’ve read a lot about this when I started my Whole30. It seems like wine does have SOME benefits, but it’s nothing that you couldn’t find in a more natural source. Basically it seems like a marketing ploy to me. Thanks for all of the research and for giving your opinion!

    1. It may be like how skim milk was touted as healthy for so long based on research sponsored by marketing groups, when dairy with a bit of fat is actually more nutritious (although I’m merely hypothesizing here). Regardless, I think part of the takeaway is that not every single thing we consume needs to be perfectly healthy – even if wine doesn’t have unique health benefits, it’s still okay to enjoy in moderation as part of a healthy diet if one so chooses 🙂

  6. I’m not a binge eater or a binge drinker. I hate the feeling of being too full–it feels claustrophobic to me. I’m not sure if it’s an emotional thing or a psychological thing or what, but I start panicking when I start to get that too much feeling. I love red wine, even in the summer. I love the sipability of it. I love how I don’t have to drink too much of it to feel all warm and fuzzy, and I don’t get all bloated. I’m a purist with food. I don’t like my food all mixed together so I don’t usually go for mixed drinks either. There’s my two cents! Cheers!

  7. Hello, That’s cool that wine increases blood flow. Like you said, that will lower the risk of clots. Maybe I should get into wine; I’ll have to find some wine tastings to go to.

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