Consuming moderate amounts of red wine has been shown to have health benefits. This is mainly due to its high content of powerful antioxidants.
1. Lower your cholesterol
Healthy study participants who consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine saw their LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” levels decrease by 9% among healthy. Participants with high cholesterol experienced a drop of 12%.
2. Protect your heart
On top of lowering bad cholesterol, polyphenols—the antioxidants in red wine—can help keep blood vessels flexible and reduce the risk of unwanted clotting, says John Folts, PhD, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and nutrition at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
3. Control blood sugar
The skin of red grapes—a rich source of red wine’s natural compound resveratrol—may actually help diabetics regulate their blood sugar, finds recent research published in the journal Nutrition. Study participants who took a 250 mg resveratrol supplement once a day for three months had lower blood glucose levels than those who didn’t take the pill. Plus, resveratrol-takers also had significant decreases in total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. Researchers suspect that resveratrol may help stimulate insulin secretion or activate a protein that helps regulate glucose and insulin sensitivity.
4. Boost your brain
Resveratrol may also be the key to keeping your memory sharp, says Philippe Marambaud, PhD, a senior research scientist at New York’s Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders. The compound has been shown to hamper the formation of beta-amyloid protein, a key ingredient in the plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Marambaud suggests flexing your noodle by doing crossword puzzles and brain teasers for an hour then cooling down with a glass of wine.
5. Stop cancer
According to researchers at the University of Virginia, the resveratrol you get from drinking one glass of red wine three or four times a week may be enough to starve any nascent cancer cells. The scientists dosed human cancer cells with resveratrol and found that the compound inhibited the key action of a cancer-feeding protein.
6. Get slim
Clearly, resveratrol is a bit of a limelight hog when it comes to the healthful compounds in vino. But research in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggests piceatannol, the chemical compound our bodies convert from resveratrol, deserves some credit. This compound was shown to actually prevent the growth of fat cells in a series of lab tests. How? Researchers say that piceatannol binds to the insulin receptors of fat cells, essentially blocking the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to mature and grow.