Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as healthy for the heart.
A polyphenol called resveratrol contained in red wine, helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol and prevents blood clots. The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of red and purple grapes and, as red wine is fermented with grape skins for longer than white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. This same substance can also be found in peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.
Research on resveratrol suggests that the antioxidant might help protect from obesity and diabetes, which are strong risk factors in heart disease. It may also help improve short-term memory. After just 30 minutes of testing, researchers found that participants taking resveratrol supplements had had a significant increase in retention of words and showed faster performance in the hippocampus (the portion of the brain associated with the formation of new memories, learning, and emotions).
Moreover, researchers treated cultures of bacteria responsible for dental disease with a variety of different liquids, including red wine, and resveratrol was most effective in eradicating the bacteria so it could potentially even help prevent cavities. Other benefits include stimulating the production of a protein that protects the body from diseases caused by aging. A 2007 study in the Journal of Gerontology supports the anti-aging claims. Over a 29-year period, Finnish wine drinkers had a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirit drinkers.
Mounting evidence suggests that drinking red wine in moderation can help prevent cancer. Guercetin, one of the many antioxidants in red wine, may help prevent lung cancer and Resveratrol inhibits the ability of cancerous cells to remove irradiated particles, making radiation therapy more effective against cancer. Resveratrol also attacks cancerous cells and inhibits their ability to function.
At the same time though, alcohol can be addictive and cause or worsen other health problems. We should remember that drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, and certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems.
In addition, drinking too much alcohol regularly can cause weakened heart muscles (cardiomyopathy), leading to symptoms of heart failure in some people. Therefore, it is important if already drinking red wine, to do so in moderation.