We've all heard talk that a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away, but what about the health risks associated with alcohol? At all plants HQ some of us are partial to the odd tipple, so we made it our mission to find out the truth about red wine.
It is the different types of polyphenols, micronutrients found in red wine, that are responsible for its good reputation. Of these, the most abundant are procyanidins called tannins (the pigment that gives wine its colour) and resveratrol (a powerful antioxidant). These polyphenol compounds are scientifically proven to have positive effects on:
They are also thought to fight cancer. That’s the science bit.
Wine has been found to be integral to the lifestyle of groups of people who live way passed 100. Sardinians specifically enjoy a couple of glasses of Cannonau wine, thought to be particularly high in certain flavonoids, in the evening. Of the five Blue Zones — places where a larger than average proportion of people live healthily into triple digits — four communities drink moderately and those who do tend to outlive the non-drinkers.
However, here’s the catch...es. Red wine contains very little of the healthy compounds mentioned above and, after a glass or two, studies do not report a high enough concentration in the blood plasma to have a significant effect.
Secondly, the alcohol itself is problematic and it is unclear whether it negates any of the proposed benefits anyway. Sadness...
Of course, what this doesn’t take into account is the enjoyment factor; we’d hazard a guess that no one actually drinks red wine (or alcohol in general) for the physical health benefits. The fact is, red wine does contain small amounts of healthy plant compounds and no fat or cholesterol. Therefore, if you fancy a bevvie — and we have to be sensible and say: in moderation — red wine is a good choice to make. Even better, why not try some Sardinian Cannonau wine, which is thought to be (at least partly) responsible for the longevity of the island’s inhabitants.
However, if you don’t already drink alcohol then we don’t recommend taking up the hobby in order to get the health benefits of wine. The best way to get all the good and none of the bad stuff is to go straight to the source and eat grapes; all the best bits are found in their skins.