By Now, Almost Everyone Knows That Red Wine Has Health Benefits
This has become a truism anywhere that wine is drunk regularly. I hear it said fairly often in conversation, and it is widely accepted as fact. The information regarding the beneficial properties of resveratrol and other polyphenols and antioxidants in red wine is based on research in the late 1990s that followed a now famous "60 Minutes" segment on the "French Paradox". This paradox is that the French, while enjoying a relatively high fat diet, are statistically much healthier than Americans, who seem almost diet-obsessed. The theory proposed is that French consumption of wine plays a role in this.
Subsequent research has provided a lot of support for this theory. There is now extensive evidence that red wine's levels of phenolic compounds and specifically the compound resveratrol, contributes to life extension, reducing the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, and heart diease....and even some studies indicate, cancer. So, in the ensuing decade, more and more Americans have been focusing on red wine as a kind of health elixir. We all remind ourselves (and each other hopefully) that limiting wine to a glass or two per day is important because clearly alcohol can be damaging. However, this argument is often offset by the now perceived healthful properties red wine brings.
Enter the latest studies on WHITE WINE: It took a while to get around to this, but research often takes time. It turns out that white wine contains its own polyphenols, tyrosol and hydroxityrosol. These substances also reduce the likelihood of blood clots and improve heart function. While white wines are produced by removing the grape skins before fermentation and as such contain fewer of the phenolic materials that exist in those skins, it turns out that the nature of those that make it into the wine are several times more powerful--and effective--than those in red wine. This makes white wine nearly as beneficial as red wine where circulatory function is concerned. It had already been established that white wine in particular has healthful benefits for lung function and the absorption of oxygen by the body.
I'm sure that tyrosol in pill form is on the market already. There's always somebody looking to make a profit on limited information. Be advised that wine brings its health benefits largely because of its complex nature and all the different substances that exist in wine working together. This includes alcohol, and so remains the caveat: Limit your intake to a glass or two per day (1 bottle of wine gives 5 glasses) for the maximum health benefits.
But now don't worry so much about red or white wine. Just drink what you enjoy most, or what will go best with the food you're having.
To Your Health!
Marc Soucy FWS CSW
Wine Consultant & Educator