The notion that the antioxidants in a glass of red wine can improve your health, brought smiles to adults everywhere. The antioxidants in red wine are both flavanoids and the nonflavanoid resveratrol--the ingredient in red wine that keeps the arteries clear of blockages, and may also help prevent obesity, diabetes, and therefore, heart disease.
What Are the Benefits of Wine?
Resveratrol is an antioxidant, kind of like an antiboitic, which attacks nasty substances that show up in our bodies. This particular substance has been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol, and fights bad cholesterol. It's that bad cholesterol that forms plaques in the arteries, leading to heart attack. Resveratrol shows up in grapes and other fruits, acting as a pesticide, but fighting fungus instead of bugs. Although resveratrol is found in white wine, it is much more highly concentrated in red wine.
There are other health-helpers in wine as well. Surprisingly, alcohol--which, when used in moderation can lower the risk of heart and artery diseases, by preventing plaques from building, and encouraging already formed plaques to dissolve--is the other major heavy-hitter for health benefits. The other, quercetin, acts as an anti-inflammatory, opening blood vessels and possibly also preventing cancer, allergies, heart disease and prostate diseases.
Are Some Wines Better than Others?
When you are tipping the glass, you might as well get the most antioxidant bang for your buck! Keep in mind that one glass tacks on an average of 180 calories per glass, so don't go overboard. Besides, experts recommend one glass every few days, so, follow their rules and you'll avoid overdoing it! It's already well known that red wines, and not whites, have the most heart health benefits, due to the manufacturing process. Choose wisely, and you'll get the most out of choosing the right ones.
Pinot Noir, especially pinots grown in the coldest climates, like New York, Oregon or Chile, have the highest resveratrol levels. This traditionally finicky grape is the most difficult to grow, and only really makes it in more frosty weather. Pinot grapes rot easily in the cold, wet weather, so it's not surprising that they produce the most resveratrol to combat it. Most pinots have 13 micromoles of resveratrol per liter, although there are some that top out at a huge 41 micromoles/liter!
Wines made from muscadine grapes are usually dessert wines, or ports, not as commonly consumed as Cabs, Merlots or Pinots, but contain generally 40micromoles/liter of resveratrol. These grapes are grown in tha Appalachian areas of the US, and are certainly an antioxidant powerhouse!
Malbec, Zinfandel and Sangiovese
These wines, when grown in colder climates, similar to pinot noir, average about 10 micromoles/liter. Most experts consider that extraordinary! This is generally the case with wines that age well, according to the experts at Wine Spectator. With so many choices, it is easy to get an "extraordinary" level in your wine, no matter your budget or choice.
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvingon
Most Merlots and Cabernets have around 8 micromoles of resveratrol per liter. While most studies state that Cabernet Sauvingon have the lowest levels of resveratrol, a hospital based study in southern France suggests that cabernet grapes, specifically from Bordeux contain the highest levels of the antioxidant.
Is red wine your miracle drug against disease? The French Paradox may suggest that it is, but it can't be said for sure. That big fat "may protect you from cancer" doesn't give us a definitive answer, but it certainly doesn't hurt to try. Especially for something as great as a nice glass of red!