I personally love a glass of red wine of an evening and the fact that we are told that red wine is actually good for our health makes it all the better! However, while i was sipping on my second glass the other night I decided to some research on whether I was doing myself some good or, as with most things in life, something delicious is not so good for me...
The idea that red wine could be good for us was down to our friends, the French, who used to eat lots of cheese, loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat but still had lower incidences of heart disease than the rest of Europe. According to Professor Roger Corder, a cardiovascular health specialist, stated that red wine is the only alcoholic drink that actually has health benefits.
Hurrah I thought! But this "positive effect on health" statement does come with some provisos - Red wine must be drunk:
(i) In moderation
(ii) In conjunction with a healthy diet
(iii) A healthy lifestyle i.e. no smoking and regular exercise
However, drinking high quantities of red wine, like any other alcohol, can raise blood pressure. He also claims that beer and spirits have no protective qualities at all. The health limit is drinking 2.5 units (175 ml glass is 2 units) a day of red wine could have benefits in terms of reducing heart disease risk, whereas drinking 8 units a day can potentially cause coronary disease.
What makes red wine good?
It is the polyphenols (an antioxidant compound found in red wine) that provide the protection, and not the reservratrol as so widely reported. Polyphenols are also present in cranberry juice, cocoa, cinnamon, apples and dark chocolate.
Drink with caution...
The cases of liver disease have doubled in the last 10 years in the UK, as opposed to other European countries where governments dont allow cheap booze. Increasing numbers of young people have liver damage, and much of this is due to the UK binge-drinking culture. The French and Italians may have a couple of glasses of wine with a meal while eating, and later on a couple more glasses with dinner. It is a fact that food helps to soak up alcohol, and one of the problems with young Brits drinking is that they go out for the evening often on an empty stomach, with the view of eating a meal later on. This means that they get more drunk and do more damage to themselves.
So...my research showed that YES drinking red wine can be good for me but only in moderation and if I find a bottle of Pinot Noir that I can't put down I should drink it over a hearty dinner, not as a pre-drink before hitting my favourite London club!