Drinking wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle
By Kate Joyce
Paso Robles’ 200-plus wineries offer a chance to relax and unwind with friends and the opportunity to taste local wines, but does enjoying a glass of Central Coast wine have hidden health benefits? Many experts believe so. The purported health benefits of drinking wine in moderation range from reduced stress to overall heart health.
Food & Wine Magazine’s website lays out a list of the health benefits of drinking wine. The first benefit given is that wine promotes longevity, which is based on a 2007 in the Journals of Gerontology from 2007 showing that “Wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers.” Next, the list cites a 2007 Harvard School of Public Health study that shows that wine consumption can reduce heart-attack risk, and states, “Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers.”
The list continues to outline the benefits, which include a lowered risk of heart disease due to the presence of tannins in red wine called procyanidins. These tannins protect against heart disease. The Food & Wine Magazine list also says that moderate wine consumption has also been shown to help to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, stroke, cataracts and colon cancer.
Finally, the Food & Wine list says that evidence from a 2006 Columbia University study, published in Neuroepidemiology, shows that “brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers.”
The Mayo Clinic, through their website, also explores the health benefits of wine. The Mayo Clinic staff does caution people to remember that, “While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol.” They continue, “That’s because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.”
However, the staff at the Mayo Clinic confirms many of the benefits outlined in Food & Wine Magazine’s list. They say, “The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and protecting against artery damage.” They expand on this point, saying, “Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention.”
The staff at the Mayo Clinic also stresses to would-be wine drinkers that these benefits need to be explored in more detail: “Red wine’s potential heart-healthy benefits look promising. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease. However, more research is needed before we know whether red wine is better for your heart than are other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits.”
The Mayo Clinic also defines moderate drinking: “Moderate drinking is defined as an average of two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do. A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces (148 mL) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits.”
Even with these cautions the findings by the Mayo Clinic lists increased “good” cholesterol, reduced formation of blood clots, and the prevention of artery damage caused by “bad” cholesterol among the possible heart-healthy benefits of moderate amounts of alcohol.
Many visitors, as well as locals, look to time spent on the Central Coast as a time to relax, unwind and shed the stress of daily life. Meghan Waters, a medical student at Tulane University’s School of Medicine and frequent visitor to Paso Robles, applauds the potential health benefits of wine. She says, “Studies have shown that red wine is protective of your heart. It’s thought this is from the antioxidants it contains, such as flavonoids, or a substance called resveratrol. These components have been shown to have heart-healthy benefits.”
Meghan continues, “Red wine has also been shown to lower the risk of certain cancers, brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, and even to help with sleep!” She does advise some caution: “Of course, alcohol can have many harmful effects on the body – so moderation is key. It is recommended that women drink only one glass per day, and men drink two glasses per day, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
A glass of wine at the close of a hectic day can help relieve the stress many people store up each day as they navigate their busy schedules. With the health benefits pointed to by recent studies on moderate wine consumption, it is even easier to enjoy a glass of wine – especially on the Central Coast. Cheers!
Kate Joyce is a Paso Robles writer and photographer.
Read original story at Central Coast Active.