Breweries, Wine, and Cheese Wellness

The Health Benefits of Red Wine

The Health Benefits of Red Wine

By Gina Trippi

The health benefits of red wine have been long and widely debated. Most agree that the antioxidant resveratrol may promote stress relief, and has been linked to numerous health benefits including cancer prevention, improved immune system function and heart health as well as anti-aging and weight-loss benefits.

How could wine possibly help you to lose weight? The Greek Wine Insider reports that a compound converted from resveratrol, piceatannol, could help control obesity, according to a study conducted by Kee-Hong Kim, assistant professor of food science at Purdue University. Kim’s research suggests that piceatannol may block insulin’s ability to activate genes that carry out further stages of fat cell formation.

Red wine may also slow the aging process, according to Richard Baxter, author of Age Gets Better with Wine. The antioxidants in red wine absorb free radicals that contribute to aging as well as age-related diseases.

Why not, you might ask, just drink grape juice? Baxter says research shows that the concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols, including resveratrol, is much higher in wine. Why? Dr. Min Du at Washington State University says the fermentation process of wine makes the antioxidant compounds easier for the body to absorb, thus accelerating the fat-burning process. You can save money on expensive moisturizers, seaweed wraps and the nip and tuck!

Research does make a distinction between drinking wine with food and going solo. Drink wine at dinner and the antioxidant properties interact with protein in a way that prevents the body from metabolizing the compounds for weight loss. But, when you drink wine without food, the body more readily absorbs the compounds and commences the glorious business of fat burning.

White wine may pair better with shrimp scampi, but studies show that, in terms of health benefits, red wine is better. The beneficial flavonoids and polyphenols, mostly contained in grape skins, are powerful antioxidants that disperse blood clots and protect against free radicals, cholesterol deposits and arterial plaque. Because red wine is fermented with the skins, it’s richer in these antioxidants.

While the scientific tools for testing wine’s benefits are new, the belief is ancient. The Greek physician Hippocrates, according to The Oxford Companion to Wine, considered wine a part of a healthy diet, advocating its use as a disinfectant for wounds and a medium in which to mix other drugs for consumption. He also prescribed wine as a cure for fever and an aid in convalescence.

Which red varietal should consumers buy to incorporate resveratrol into their diets? “I would recommend trying one of the grape varietals that is native to only Greece such as Agiorgitiko,” says Chelsea Here, assistant manager of Golden Fleece, Asheville’s new Greek restaurant in Grovewood.

Does Chelsea believe that red wine carries health benefits? “The anti-oxidants help fight signs of aging,” Chelsea says. “That’s why Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, was such a babe!”

Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Metro Wines offers big-shop selection with small-shop service. Gina can be reached at gina@metrowinesasheville.com or 828.575.9525.

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