Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
Some coworkers have been talking about how everyone should drink wine for their health! Is it true that drinking wine is now good for you? How much is good?
Drinking wine for good health seems to be getting all the press instead of healthier alternatives, probably because it's an intoxicating beverage.
However, there have been studies supporting intake of nonalcoholic beverages such as grape juice, cranberry juice, or tea with lower incidence of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases.
Support for moderate consumption of wine, 1-2 glasses, and a decrease in coronary heart disease first came to public attention via the "60 Minutes" report on the "French Paradox" (CBS News, 2003). The French had a lower incidence of coronary heart disease despite their diet high in fat. One possible reason given for the low rate of coronary heart disease in France was the French habit of drinking wine with meals. Antioxidants such as flavonoids or resveratrol are in grapes. Resveratrol lowers the "bad" LDL cholesterol, but elevates the "good" HDL cholesterol levels.
However, University of Pennsylvania researchers found smaller food portions may explain the 'French Paradox' of rich cuisine and slender population. The researchers noted that food portions are significantly smaller in French restaurants and supermarkets than in their American counterparts (see www.upenn.edu).
Beverages High in Resveratrol
Red wines have a higher level of resveratrol than white wines. In particular, the red wine, pinot noir, has about twice as much as other reds.
For people who do not want to drink alcohol, there are alternatives. Some research has pointed out that cranberry juice, red or purple grape juice work as well, maybe better, than red wine. However, fresh grapes do not have as high a concentration of antioxidants as processed grape juice or wine.
Although some health food stores sell resveratrol as a nutritional supplement., more research needs to be done on this supplement to see if it has the same benefits as wine or grape juice.
In addition, other studies indicate that black or green tea may be more beneficial than wine in reducing heart disease as well as cancer and other diseases.
Two cups of tea have an equivalent antioxidant as 2 glasses of purple grape juice, one glass of red wine, 12 glasses of white wine, 7 glasses of orange juice, 12 glasses of beer, 20 glasses of apple juice (Halpern, 2005).
However, tea, grape juice, or wine consumption doesn't take the place of a healthy lifestyle, which should include exercise, no smoking, low fat foods, and lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and water.