The health benefits of red wine have been utilized throughout its history going back approximately 8,000 years. Historians believe that it was first produced in the European and Asian areas – particularly in present day Georgia and Iran. It is made by fermenting different varieties of grapes. There are six main types of red grape varieties that are used to make different types of wines. Of these six types of grape varieties, it is not known which was cultivated first.
Main Types of Grape
- Cabernet Sauvignon is a fairly new type of grape used to make wine that may not have been used for wine production until the 18th century. These types of grapes have gained recent popularity in Australia.
- Chianti – This grape dates back to the 15th century and is Italy’s best known kind of wine.
- Merlot – The merlot grape goes all the way back to the first century and is most commonly cultivated in France.
- Pinot Noir – Another grape that is common to France. Wine made from this grape dates back to the time period of the Roman Empire and was used by Christian monks.
- Sangiovese – This grape is believed to come from Tuscany in the 1700’s. Currently it is successfully grown in California as well.
- Zinfandel – This grape was discovered in the United States in the 1830’s and is currently used for producing wine in California.
According to research in archeology, red wine has been used for medicinal purposes since 3150 B.C. In 450 B.C. Hippocrates, also known as “the father of modern medicine” prescribed red wine to cure a fever, to prevent infection of wounds, as a diuretic and also as a nutritional supplement. Up until the 18th century, wine was supposed to be safer to drink than water.
Through the years, there has been much research done on the health benefits of red wine. Most experts agree that when it is consumed in moderation and part of an overall healthy diet, it can have some health benefits. And by the way, in moderation means one five ounce glass for women and two five once glasses for men, per day. If one is watching their calories, it is good to remember that a five ounce glass of wine contains about 120 calories.
Health Benefits of Red Wine
It helps with sleep – while people are usually cautioned about alcohol actually interfering with sleep, red wine which contains a key ingredient called melatonin can help with sleep. This anti-oxidant helps to regulate one’s internal clock and besides helping with sleep, melatonin can also help to prevent cancer.
It is good for the heart – consuming moderate amounts of red wine can do a number of good things for the heart. Because it contains antioxidants called flavonoids, drinking red wine can raise HDL levels, which is the good cholesterol that everyone wants; it can also lower LDL levels, which is often described as bad cholesterol. Drinking red wine can also act as a blood thinner which can prevent dangerous clotting.
It may reduce the risk of disease – as mentioned, red wine contains antioxidants that are not only good for the heart but for the rest of the body as well. Antioxidants can actually repair cells that have been damaged by free radicals and can reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, macular degeneration and certain types of cancer.
It contains resveratrol – of all the antioxidants, resveratrol is probably the one getting most of the attention. Resveratrol is found in the skin and seeds of grapes and can also help to prevent some types of cancer. But another benefit of this powerful antioxidant is that it can help reverse aging helping one to have increased longevity. Resveratrol may also help to prevent age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Men can benefit from drinking red wine because the resveratrol it contains may also help to prevent prostate cancer. In fact, some experts suggest that men who drink one glass of red wine a day can cut their chances of getting prostate cancer in half.
It can protect you from getting the flu – research shows that by drinking a glass of wine a day, consumers of red wine can reduce their chances of getting influenza by 20 percent. Drinking red wine while you have a cold could also prove to be beneficial.
It helps to calm the mind – For some people it is common that after a hard day, the first thing they do upon coming home is open up a bottle of wine. This is because red wine is a natural tranquilizer and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Red wine contains vitamins and minerals – though in small amounts, red wine does contain vitamins and minerals such as:
- Potassium – this mineral and electrolyte helps to regulate the heartbeat, aids in protein and nucleic acid synthesis, helps produce energy and convert blood sugar into glycogen.
- Fluoride – this mineral can help prevent tooth decay, reduce risk of cavities and keeps tooth enamel strong.
- Phosphorous – this mineral helps convert food into energy. Phosphorous also helps with kidney function, metabolism, cell growth and heart muscle contraction.
- Choline – this vitamin is part of the vitamin B family that helps to maintain overall good health. Choline may also help with memory function and is being used in Alzheimer’s research.
Other benefits – a few more benefits include providing energy, aids in digestion, stimulates the appetite and can help to restore nutritional balance.
For most, drinking red wine can be a good thing. It is good to remember though that drinking more wine than the recommended amounts can have a reversed effect. Also, people with the following conditions or health issues are recommended not to drink red wine: those with high triglyceride levels, those who suffer from migraine headaches, those who are trying to lose weight and women who are pregnant.
A great way to get a wide variety of minerals and vitamins, the health benefits of red wine stretch from helping with heart disease to potentially reducing cancer but always drink in moderation.
Jeff Andrews writes about the many common foods that are beneficial to your health.
Red wine contains Pycnogenol which is very beneficial for your health.