For many, reaching for a glass of wine after a long day or while having dinner is commonplace. But is it really good for you?
While red wine has been considered healthy, especially for your heart, it’s important to be aware of all of the facts. Red wine can have certain health benefits, but it can also come with risks. Either way, moderation is key.
What is moderate alcohol consumption?
- 1 drink a day for women
- 1-2 drinks a day for men
One drink is defined differently for various types of alcoholic beverages:
- Wine: 5 ounces
- Beer: 12 ounces
- Vodka, gin, bourbon: 1.5 ounces
People who should avoid alcohol completely include:
What are potential health benefits of red wine?
Because red wine contains several antioxidants called polyphenols, drinking it in moderation may have some health benefits.
Polyphenols include compounds such as resveratrol, catechins, anthocyanins, tannins, and catechin, which may:
- Promote heart health
- Regulate blood cholesterol
- Help relieve stress and elevate mood
- May promote longevity
- Protect from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis
- Improve focus
Despite these potential benefits, drinking wine is not necessary to get the benefits of polyphenols or flavonoids. These compounds are also found in red grapes, nuts, and blueberries, which also contain fiber and essential minerals and vitamins.
What are potential dangers of drinking wine every day?
For many people, there is often a slippery slope from moderate drinking to binge drinking. Over time, binge drinking can turn into extremely heavy drinking and then alcohol dependency. If your alcohol consumption seems to increase day after day, it’s important to consider cutting down.
According to The Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study that analyzed levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries from 1990-2016, alcohol has risks even if consumed moderately:
- Alcohol was the seventh leading cause of death and disability worldwide in 2016. For people between ages 15-49, alcohol was the top risk factor for death and disability, and the cause of death in older adults was cancer due to alcohol consumption.
- Some protective effects related to light drinking (less than one drink a day) were seen; however, benefits were limited to certain groups under certain conditions.
Should you drink wine for your health?
While there are some benefits to drinking wine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to start drinking it for those benefits. And the potential risks may outweigh those benefits.
Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s important to remember that alcohol of any kind is not needed to maintain good health. You can reap safer health benefits with the following:
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GBD 2016 Alcohol Collaborators. Alcohol Use and Burden for 195 Countries and Territories, 1990–2016: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet. 2018; 392(10152): 1015-1035. https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext
Shmerling RH. Alcohol and Your Health: Is None Better Than a Little? Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/alcohol-and-your-health-is-none-better-than-a-little-2018091914796