So is red wine really good for you, or bad for you?

Published: 13th March 2009
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I don't know about you, but I love my red wine. I was suckered in by all the hype about the antioxidants in red wine being really good for you. Up until then I just drank it because I liked the taste and flavour of it.

Having owned and run our own hotel with bar and restaurant in partnership with my husband, our evenings were spent serving the customers with their meals, and then socialising in the bar. And I defy anyone to be in that position and be teetotal, although we did try to keep our intake within moderation.

In the recession of the early 1990s, in 1992 to be precise, we lost our business due to the astronomically high interest rates. It seems like a joke now, with interest rates at .5 percent, but we were paying 20.5 percent (5 percent over base rate) and the mortgage became unsustainable.

Ever since then we have always found enough money to pay for our habit; and that is all it is. It is not an addiction when you can decide to go on a six-week detox, or happily attend a function where there is no booze. But it was a serious habit. We always told ourselves we could not be alcoholics because we did not want a drink first thing in the morning. Normally we would have our first drink about 6pm (when the sun has gone over the yardarm!), except on the rare occasion when we went out for lunch, and one of us would either abstain, or just have one small glass.

So, is it good for you? I have been avidly following all the research and have absorbed all the articles and news stories until I am not sure what to believe any more.

There was an article in the Daily Mail last year comparing different wines, and stating that some wines are better for you than others. For example, one small glass of Madiran wine from France has more health benefits than two bottles of most Australian wines.

The same article refers to the resveratrol in red wine being good for us due to it being a powerful antioxidant which comes from the skins of grapes. Unfortunately you would have to drink vast amounts of red wine to reap the anti-cancer benefits.

Better still are polyphenols, which are chemical compounds in grape skin and seeds. These are natural antioxidants which protect the membranes of each cell. Another important element of red wine is the presence of procyanidins, which help to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and protect against hardening of the arteries.

Those wines that are the richest in procyanidins tend to be those where the skins and seeds as well as the grapes have remained in contact with the wine during fermentation and afterwards. You won't find this information on the bottle, you will need to scour the producers' websites, and look for contact time of at least ten days.

Cabernet Sauvignon is usually better than Merlot or Shiraz, with Chilean and Argentinean Cabernets the best choice.

Another snippet of interesting research found that enjoying a glass of red wine with your Sunday roast cancels out some of the harmful substances produced by the meat in the stomach. These chemicals - released during the digestion of fat - are linked to many ills, including cancer, hardening of the arteries, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. It is thought that the polyphenols in red wine neutralise some of the dangers of the meat. Seems like a really good reason to cook your fillet steak in red wine a la Jamie Oliver!

This little snippet ended by saying that several studies have shown that just half a glass of red wine a day can greatly reduce the risk of death from heart disease. They don't tell you how to stop at half a glass!

Just recently a report in the paper disclosed that research had shown women who drink a large glass of wine a day increase their risk of breast cancer by a quarter, and a woman who drinks three units of alcohol a day and also smokes, suffers a similar rise in her risk for oral and throat cancers.

Danish researchers found that drinking more than two glasses of wine a day almost doubles the risk of a woman developing allergies. Those who have more than 14 drinks a week are 78% more likely to develop the sore eyes, runny nose and headaches associated with reactions to house dust mites or animal fur.

Now for the good news: researchers claim that a daily glass of wine could stave off cancer of the gullet. A study found that those who enjoy a regular tipple more than halved their risk of developing Barrett's Oesophagus, an untreatable condition that can lead to oesophageal cancer.

Well, all I can say is - cheers! But not every day, and not to excess. My husband and I suddenly decided soon after Christmas that we would go on a detox again. Neither of us could believe how easy it was; in fact it is very much easier to give up than to cut down. Once the bottle is open, we always want to finish it. So now we drink two or three times a week, and the other days we drink purple grape juice, so we still get our health benefits!


Mary Howard has written & compiled 'Natural Health Secrets Exposed', a unique reference book of remedies, cures and health benefits the pharmaceutical companies want to keep hidden. Why not take a look at the web site to find out more and sign up for the free 7 day mini course =>

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