Health Benefits of Wine Consumption

A recent publication by Food and Wine listed eight recent medical studies with associated medical benefits of moderate wine consumption (defined by the American Heart Association as one to two four ounce glasses a day.
Every year, there is a flurry of headlines about the health benefits of wine. But can drinking wine really make a difference? Here, the news—very good news, indeed—from the latest studies. Note: The health benefits come from moderate wine consumption, defined by the American Heart Association as one to two four-ounce glasses a day.

The Benefit: Promotes Longevity

The Evidence: Wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers. Source: a Finnish study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007.

The Benefit: Reduces Heart-Attack Risk

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers. Source: a 16-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 11,711 men, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007.

The Benefit: Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

The Evidence: Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France have more procyanidins than other wines. Source: a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006.

The Benefit: Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes. Source: research on 369,862 individuals studied over an average of 12 years each, at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, published in Diabetes Care, 2005.

The Benefit: Lowers Risk of Stroke

The Evidence: The possibility of suffering a blood clot–related stroke drops by about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol. Source: a Columbia University study of 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, published in Stroke, 2006.

The Benefit: Cuts Risk of Cataracts

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers; those who consume wine are 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those drinking mainly beer. Source: a study of 1,379 individuals in Iceland, published in Nature, 2003.

The Benefit: Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer

The Evidence: Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent. Source: a Stony Brook University study of 2,291 individuals over a four-year period, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005.

The Benefit: Slows Brain Decline

The Evidence: Brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers. Source: a Columbia University study of 1,416 people, published in Neuroepidemiology, 2006.

Many studies have reported positive results from moderate consumption of wine since the famous 60 Minutes segment on the subject in 1991. Essentially, this report examined the European lifestyle of healthy fats, eg, olive oil with Mediterranean diet of less meat and more grains and fresh vegetables coupled with increased exercise and moderate consumption of wine and reported very positive findings on health and longevity. As with most things in life, moderation or balance is the key. I remember well when a friend of mine graduated with her PhD in food sciences from MIT at the age of 22 and she told me that regarding food consumption, moderation is the key regarding both quantity and type. In fact, she said all things should be practiced in moderation except moderation which should be practiced to its extreme.

Jim Bryant