From protecting your heart health and lowering breast cancer risk to fighting off colds and gum disease, red wine is touted as a medicinal superfood. But before you crack open that bottle and toast your good health, here is what you need to know.
Is red wine healthier than white?
Yes, experts say, but not all grapes are created equal. White wine contains resveratrol but not as much as red, and scientists believe pinot noir grapes have the highest concentration of the compound.
Is wine fattening?
Actually, researchers from Purdue University say they've found a compound in red wine, grapes, blueberries, and passion fruit that blocks immature fat cells' ability to develop and grow. Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally; moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Plus, if you're going to drink, wine is the most calorie-friendly choice with a typical 20 calories per ounce.
Is it okay to drink wine, or any alcohol, during pregnancy?
It's complicated. A new series of studies from Denmark found that children of women drinking up to eight alcoholic drinks a week in early pregnancy showed no effects in terms of intelligence, attention, or self-control at age five. Yet many doctors still advise pregnant women to avoid alcohol altogether. Drinking during pregnancy, particularly heavy drinking and especially during the seventh and 12th weeks of pregnancy, has been linked to fetal alcohol syndrome, which causes serious developmental problems in children. This is a question best settled with your doctor.
Will drinking wine boost a woman's risk of breast cancer?
The jury is still out. Women who drink three to six glasses of alcohol per week have a 15 percent higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink, according to research led by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Yet in a conflicting study at the University of Calabria, Italy, the resveratrol compound was also found to block the cancer-fueling effects of the female hormone estrogen, as well as inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells that have become hormone resistant.
Will wine reduce blood pressure?
There is research aplenty on the heart health benefits of a daily glass (or two) of red wine, but Dutch researchers discovered that the antioxidants in wine that account for the benefits don't reduce blood pressure.
Can I get all the health benefits of wine from drinking grape juice?
Maybe: According to the Mayo Clinic, some research studies suggest that red and purple grape juices may provide some of the same heart benefits of red wine, including reducing the risk of blood clots, reducing so-called bad cholesterol, and preventing damage to blood vessels in the heart. Some research suggests that whole grapes deliver the same amount of antioxidants that are in grape juice and wine but have the added benefit of providing dietary fiber.
Is wine healthier than beer or hard liquor?
Possibly: Multiple studies have show any type of alcohol, when consumed in moderation, offers life-extending benefits. But the polyphenols, resveratrol, and other ingredients common to wine have also been shown to prevent heart disease, slow muscle deterioration, and offer other health-boosting effects not found in beer or spirits.