Alcohol Can Be Good For You

red wine in wine glassesThe holidays come with indulgences of many kinds; from turkey and fish to cookies and candies and the not to be forgotten–alcoholic drinks. The holidays seem to be the time for a lot of everything. But if you’re concerned at all about your health and how these plethora of indulgences may impact it, you’ll want to learn a bit more about the alcoholic drinks you choose to drink.

Alcohol Can Be Good For You

In fact, some of these drinks may actually benefit you and your body – in moderation of course.

Wines are traditionally associated with holiday meals which are steeped in rich traditions. Wine is a natural accompaniment to any traditional meal. There are many types of wines to choose from today. The most common red wines include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah.

Then there are the whites; Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and the New Year’s Eve favorite, Champagne.

If you’re not partial to either red or white wine (or if you’re looking to consume the healthiest wines) opt for the red wine and you may just be giving your health a needed boost.

Red Wine’s Impact on Health

Wines have been around for centuries dating as far back as the time of Jesus. But recently the health benefits of certain wines–red wines–have come into light through modern research.

 

 

When it comes to red wine there are several naturally found components that make it good for you. Loaded with antioxidants one glass is made up of an average of seventy-five grapes. The antioxidants found in red wines boost many of the body’s processes but are particularly revered for improving heart health.

One of the main focuses today with red wine is on how it improves heart health. Although researchers have yet to pinpoint exactly how this benefit occurs they have a theory.

The belief is that the antioxidants found in red wine, particularly flavonoids and resveratrol, are the key ingredients in boosting heart health.

Red Wine and Resveratrol: A Magic Heart Helper?

There are many recent studies on resveratrol and the heart. One of the most interesting was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This report studied and summarized thirteen different animal studies on resveratrol and heart health. What was found is that resveratrol has a positive impact on the heart in more than just one way.

 3 Ways Resveratrol in Red Wine Boosts Heart Health

According to this report, resveratrol from red wine helps the heart stay healthy in these ways:

  1. Fighting dangerous inflammation in the body
  2. Lowering bad cholesterol levels
  3. Fighting free radical damage with high levels of antioxidants

While no one is encouraging non-drinkers to become drinkers or current drinkers to become heavy drinkers, the mounting evidence suggests that if you do drink in moderation, choosing red wine could help your heart health in these important ways.

So what is resveratrol, this powerful component found in red wines?

Resveratrol 101

Resveratrol is a chemical component found in red wines and the skin of grapes used to make red wines. Resveratrol is a polyphenol which, simply put, is a chemical compound that is found in plants, in particular a flavonoid. Flavonoids are the pigment producing polyphenols found in plants.

Resveratrol is found in more than red wine, however, red wine is one of the richest sources of this powerful polyphenol.

Resveratrol is Found in:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Mulberries
  • Grape skins

If you don’t drink or dislike red wine, then adding any one (or more) of these foods to your daily diet is a great way to boost your resveratrol intake. And if you do drink, remember the benefit only comes with drinking in moderation. If you step over this line of moderation (considered to be one to two glasses a day) then you’re actually going to be increasing your risk for certain health problems. Moderation is key!

Beer Drinkers Alert! Choosing Heart Healthy Beers

Now if you have a strong aversion to wine and are a tried and true beer drinker with a little knowledge, you too can boost your health with indulging in the right beer.

Beers that are dark, such as world famous Guinness, are the ones that are the best for your health. Again, drinking in moderation is key and the benefit seems to be for your heart with dark beers.

The research associated with drinking dark beers and improved health show the following positive health effects:

3 Ways Dark Beer Consumption Positively Impacts Your Health

Lowers homocysteine levels in blood by the action of folate. Lower homocysteine levels are associated with a possible lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Lower triglycerides and LDL. Studies on mice show components in beer will lower triglyceride and LDL levels. Both also closely associated with heart health.

Reduces blood clotting. Some studies found that one beer per day helps reduce blood clots also associated with heart problems.

Dark Beer 101

So what’s in these dark beers that boost your health and protect the heart?

Recent research shows that there are several components found in dark beer that make it a heart healthy alcohol choice.

First of all hops. Hops are what cut the sweetness in beer. But hops also has been shown to deliver a whopping of polyphenols to help the body lower cholesterol, fight cancers, and kill off daily virus threats.

Today’s beer market is flooded with hundreds of choices. You may think that the best choice for heart health (and overall health) is one of the ‘light,’ mass manufactured beers, think again. Many of these light beers go through vast amounts of processing that remove almost all of the naturally occurring compounds like polyphenols that make it healthy. Opt for the micro-brew beers rich in flavor and color. If you enjoy beer do some research on the different kinds. You’re sure to learn a lot about beer and find one you enjoy that’s loaded with healthy compounds.

My advice to you is that if you do drink consider consuming in moderation either a red wine or a dark beer instead of sugar laden alcoholic drinks that are so common at the holidays and in the bars. These drinks do nothing but hurt your body and leave you feeling it the next day.

Remember to drink only in moderation and don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver when you go out and stick to the plan. If you’ve had too much to drink call a cab, catch a ride with a friend, or simply stay the night where you are.

Sources

Mayo Clinic (2009)

Men’s Health (2010)


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Josh Axe

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