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Home / Proven Health Benefits or Wishful Thinking? A Dive into the Science Behind Red Wine

Proven Health Benefits or Wishful Thinking? A Dive into the Science Behind Red Wine

We all desire to lead healthier lives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a delicious drink served in an elegant glass could help us along the way? 

Red wine has long been touted for its heart health benefits. This is because the skin of grapes contains resveratrol, a key antioxidant responsible for the potential health benefits of red wine. Since the grape skins are fermented for a longer time in red wine, it contains more resveratrol than its white counterpart. For those who want to avoid alcohol, red and purple grape juices are alternatives that also contain the antioxidant. 

Resveratrol isn’t unique to grapes and wine. In fact, peanuts, blueberries, dark chocolate and cranberries are among foods that contain the powerful antioxidant. In particular, the dark skin of blueberries and cranberries make them rich in the compound.

In general, it’s well documented that antioxidant-rich foods lower inflammation and protect the body’s cells from damage by neutralizing reactive oxygen species. In this way, they can help shield the body against chronic illnesses like certain cancers and heart disease. The research on whether resveratrol and red wine specifically provides heart protective benefits is mixed. Some studies have shown it may lower the risk of blood clots, inflammation and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol also known as “the bad cholesterol”, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease and strokes. Other studies have found no heart health benefits linked to the antioxidant. 

Small amounts of alcohol in general, not just in red wine, have been shown to offer a few heart health benefits such as helping prevent blood clots and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also dubbed “the good cholesterol”. However, it’s important to note that alcohol can be addictive and may have more negative health effects than benefits. Recommendations for healthy adults are up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. It should be noted, however, that the amount of resveratrol needed to protect the heart is unknown.

More research is needed to determine the link between red wine and heart health. However, one thing is clear: individuals who don’t drink shouldn’t start drinking for the possible health benefits. For those who enjoy wine in moderation or wish to get a dose of resveratrol, they can toast with a glass of red wine or grape juice.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit

A Healthier Michigan
Author: A Healthier Michigan

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