Health Benefits in a Glass of Red Wine

Reported benefits of red wine consumption include improved cardiovascular and nervous system health…when consumed in moderation. Too much of a good thing can actually damage the heart, though, and can also cause liver damage, increase the risk of osteoporosis and exacerbate depression.

While men can typically consume two glasses of red wine per day to achieve maximum results, women usually receive optimal benefits from half of that amount. The primary reason men are able to drink the larger quantity without the adverse side effects is primarily a function of a bigger body mass on average.

The benefits aren’t actually from the wine or the alcohol therein, but rather the powerful antioxidants. These substances keep unstable molecules known as free radicals from attacking cells and doing damage.

Keys to Health Benefits

The primary forms of antioxidants found in red wine are flavonoids and resveratrol. Flavonoids are generated in plants. The primary flavonoid in red wine is anthocyanin and is found in the skin of the grapes that give wine its deep purple-red hue.

Resveratrol is a compound that grows within the fruit and serves an important function. It helps the plant ward off fungal infections and other types of disease. Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a specific class of antioxidant.

The effect of the antioxidants varies depending on the type of red wine selected. Cabernet Sauvignon leads the way, containing the most antioxidants. It is closely followed by Petite Syrah and Pinot Noir. Merlot and Zinfandel blends also hold antioxidants, but to a lesser extent than other red wines.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Heart Attacks

The flavonoids in red wine have been shown to decrease the presence of bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the bloodstream. Both flavonoids and resveratrol also seem to inhibit the formation of sticky platelets. The binding of platelets increases the risk of clot formation, a major risk factor in heart attacks and stroke.

Improved Neurological System Health

Resveratrol has proven useful in blocking the formation of amyloid plaques. These are thought to inhibit brain cell health and could be a leading contributor to Alzheimer’s disease. It is also believed that resveratrol aids in the formation of new nerve cells. This has stimulated research into the prevention of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Excessive alcohol use is known to create short-term memory loss. Prolonged heavy use can impact overall neurological health, among other issues. However, moderate consumption can have lasting positive effects.

Cancer Prevention

Studies have linked red wine consumption to a reduced cancer risk in humans. Resveratrol has shown the ability to inhibit growth of cancer cells and reduce tumor incidence in laboratory tests. A glass of red wine a day has shown up to a 50 percent reduction in a man’s risk of prostate cancer. It is even more effective in battling the most aggressive forms of this deadly disease.

As with other disease states, excessive alcohol use actually increases risk factors for several forms of cancer.

Dental Hygiene

The antioxidants in red wine have many other positive influences. Researchers believe they decrease inflammation caused by periodontal disease. The result is decreased tissue damage and improved overall dental health. Unmanaged periodontal disease can lead to permanent tooth loss

Other Health Benefits

Researchers continue to find new ways in which antioxidants heal and protect the body’s cells. They are a contributing factor in staving off destructive processes inside the human body.

A simple example of how antioxidants work can be witnessed with a sliced apple. Once the meat of the fruit is exposed to the air, free radicals attack the cells and the fruit begins to turn brown from oxidation. However, by dipping the apple in lemon juice the slices will stay white and fresh. The presence of the antioxidant vitamin C is what protects the fruit.

Interfysio, a healthcare staffing agency that specializes in helping individuals find occupational therapist jobs in the New York City area.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jessicamelling

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