By Nutrition at Tescodiets.com
Monday, June 16, 2014.
Knocking back a glass of wine each day has long
been linked to good health. That is, of course, as long as it’s one glass and
not the entire bottle.
Wine can help protect against
diseases of the heart and the brain, including coronary artery disease, stroke,
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Wine drinkers even have lower
rates of certain cancers compared to folks who don’t partake. In general, those
who drink wine live longer than those who drink beer or other kinds of booze.
Yet scientists have wondered:
Is wine really such a powerful tonic? Red wine contains antioxidants
that have powerful health-protecting properties, but the relationship may not
be simple cause and effect. Perhaps wine drinkers also take better care of
themselves; they may also eat more healthily and exercise more regularly than
beer drinkers or teetotallers.
In other words, perhaps wine
is a marker of a certain lifestyle?
What's on your shopping list
A new study suggests the
benefits of wine are at least in part due to the smart dietary choices of wine
connoisseurs. Danish researchers analysed 3.5 million supermarket receipts and
found that wine drinkers (people who bought wine as their only form of alcohol)
tended to buy more fruits, vegetables, low-fat meats and cheeses than other
Beer drinkers, on the other
hand, filled their trolleys with ready-to-eat dishes, cold cuts, sausages,
sugary items and soft drinks.
These differing shopping lists
suggest that lifestyle choices may be more important than the type of alcohol a
person drinks when it comes to determining mortality risk.
Other demographic patterns
emerged among the Danish wine drinkers that could also influence their lower
mortality rates. They tend to be more highly educated, wealthier and in better
physical shape than beer drinkers. Similar results have been found in a
Californian population, suggesting this isn't just a quirk of the current
It seems that no matter where
they live, wine drinkers tend to subscribe to the so-called Mediterranean diet
- chock full of fresh food and healthy, unsaturated fats like olive oil and
fish, with a minimum of artery-clogging fat from meats and processed foods.
Food for thought
Scientists note that wine
usually accompanies a meal, which means that the alcohol may be better
tolerated by the body. In contrast, beer or other spirits tend to be enjoyed on
a fairly empty stomach, while watching the game on TV or sidled up to a bar.
Still, even with all the
evidence that wine may not be a cure-all, let’s not discount the power of a
glass of Chilean Shiraz. Scientists have identified some 6,000 antioxidants in
wine, especially wines made with grape skins, which turn the wines red in colour.
In general, foods that have dark pigments, such as blueberries, cherries,
spinach or kale, are also packed with cell-protecting chemicals.
These antioxidants do their
work by disarming rogue molecules known as free radicals, which damage cell
membranes and oxidise “bad” cholesterol, leading to hardened arteries.
A daily tipple of alcohol, any
alcohol, also thins the blood, which a recent study found prevents blood clots.
So go ahead, uncork that
bottle and have a glass (not the bottle). Bottoms up!