Over the years, countless studies have been published espousing the health benefits of wine. The so-called French Paradox, a term coined in the 1980s, refers to the fact that the French have low levels of heart disease despite their high consumption of saturated fats, such as butter, cream, cheese and duck fat. This was attributed to the consumption of wine with meals, especially reds, which were found to contain beneficial compounds.
Resveratrol, research suggests, helps to keep blood vessels in good shape by reducing bad cholesterol and preventing clots. For women, a glass of wine (about 80ml) is said to help prevent type 2 diabetes if they have what is considered a “normal” body mass index. Resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties can also apparently block the phosphodiesterase 4 enzyme, stopping it from causing cell degradation.
A study published in 2012 by Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, in California, in the United States, found that chemicals in the skin and seeds of red grapes lower oestrogen levels, which, in turn, can reduce the growth of precancerous cells in premenopausal women with moderate consumption of red wine (the body’s ability to reap the benefits of these antioxidants is understood to plateau after two glasses).
Some polyphenols function in a similar way to resveratrol – especially piceatannol, which is present on the skin of red grapes. In lab tests, it was seen to block the formation of fat cells. And some special enzymes present in red wine appear to help combat carcinogens and tumour growth.
For those afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis, a Swedish study found that red wine can help moderate the autoimmune responses of the chemicals that cause inflammation.
Although red wine is notorious for staining teeth, it is actually considered beneficial to them as it helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to enamel, thus reducing gum disease. White wine is more acidic and so weakens tooth enamel.
Some wine-research results are downright silly. One study found that resveratrol can help the elderly maintain a sense of balance and reduce their risk of falling.To get enough resveratrol to have any effect, however, each patient would need to consume 100 glasses of red wine – an impossible amount, not to mention the fact that all that alcohol would wildly increase the chances of falling over.
For me, the biggest benefit of wine is that it makes people more sociable, allowing us to stop, relax, reflect on life and enjoy the moment.