wholesome health advice

Red Red Wine

Ever wonder why red wine is considered a healthful drink?

The current hype of red wine’s medicinal properties is nothing new.  For thousands of years, it was just what the doctor ordered for killing pathogens, acting as a mild tranquilizer, and aiding digestion.  Plus, wine was a safer drink than water until the 18th century.  Today, due to its low sugar content and its high flavonoid and Resveratrol content, red wine is still judged as a healthful option.

Sugar:   The U.S. has no wine labeling requirements for sugar content; for information, contact the winery directly.  Basically, red wines have minute amounts of sugar and the word dry indicates less sugar, while semi-dry and off-dry are sweeter.

Flavonoids:  Not only does red contain little sugar, results from a UC-Davis study found that flavonoids favor red wine, the dryer ones contain the most.  The wine list (in order of decreasing flavonoid potency): Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Red Zinfandels.

Now what exactly is a flavonoid?

Flavonoids are compounds found in plant-based foods that have beneficial biochemical plus antioxidant effects.  Antioxidants protect cells against the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress. This type of stress occurs from an imbalance between the reactive oxygen species and antioxidants.  More reactive oxygen verses fewer antioxidants can lead to cell damage, which is linked to cancer, aging, atherosclerosis, ischemic injury, inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases.

Flavonoids also contain anti-viral, anti-allergic, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties.  Many plant-based foods contain flavonoids; the following is not an inclusive list: walnuts, pecans, berries, tea (black, red and green), dill, parsley, thyme, dark chocolate, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, broccoli, bananas, citrus fruit, apples, plums, and apricots.  Flavonoids often contribute to the color of foods, which is yet another reason to eat all colors of the fruit and vegetable rainbow.


Resveratrol:  Resveratrol is the other healthful ingredient of red wine.  It’s derived from seed-producing plants, called Spermatophytes, which include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries, and grapes.  Resveratrol, known as heart healthy, may help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and prevent blood clots.

Red wine has more Resveratrol than white (more than 10x) because the fermentation process utilizing the grape skin is longer for red than white.  Of the red grapes, one Cornell University study found that Pinot Noir Grapes have the highest amount of Resveratrol.

You may also gain the benefits of Resveratrol by eating dark-skinned grapes or drinking the same color grape juice.  Yet, because Resveratrol amounts widely vary in food and red wine, it’s not known how beneficial eating foods that contain Resveratrol compare to drinking it.  Despite this, the Japanese have been reaping the benefits of Resveratrol by drinking Itadori, a tea made with the Knotweed plant.

Then there’s also the popular resveratrol supplements-while researchers haven’t found any harm in taking them, most of the Resveratrol in supplements (like most other supplements) aren’t fully absorbed by your body.


Other macro and micro ingredients (chart from the Professional Friends of Wine):

This list is not impressive.   Red wine definitely doesn’t provide essential amounts of these nor other vitamins and minerals; thus your daily glass isn’t a complete health drink.


Dry Red **12.5%

Dry White **12.5%

*Sweet Dessert **18%


6 ounces

6 oz.

3 oz.


8.5 milligrams

8.5 mg.

7.65 mg.






2.9 grams

1.35 g.

10 g.


.28 grams

.14 g.

.17 g.

*based upon a wine with a residual sugar content of 8% (higher sugar increases carbs)
**higher alcohol increases calories | ***wines that are unfined and unfiltered may be somewhat higher in protein

Wine vitamin content is expressed here as a percentage of Estimated Daily Requirements, based on a 2000 calorie diet.
VITAMIN B1 (Thiamin)




VITAMIN B2 (Riboflavin)




VITAMIN B3 (Niacin)












Wines also contain trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals,
but at such low levels that they are insignificant for dietary consideration.


Reaping the Benefits

Even though it appears that red wine is a healthful drink, it’s certainly not a panacea and not everyone should be imbibing it.  A short list of people who shouldn’t drink includes those with digestive tract inflammations, liver disease, pancreatitis, kidney infections, prostate disorders, epilepsy and/or alcoholism.  In addition, pre-menopausal women that have family histories of breast cancer should also abstain.

How much is too much? Alcohol enters the stomach then passes to small intestine entering the bloodstream. It then heads to the liver, where dehydrogenase (an enzyme) breaks it down and facilitates elimination.  According to some studies, body size and muscle mass, food intake, and gender affect ability to resist drunkenness.  Yet, the average person usually metabolizes about half an ounce of alcohol each hour.

One way to avoid consuming too much is to match each glass with a glass of water.  On the occasion/s you do drink too much, one suggestion for your am headache is to replenish with some type of sports drink.  Because alcohol depletes electrolytes, a glass or two of Emergen-C or coconut water could be beneficial.

But, to truly glean the benefits of the flavonoids and Resveratrol in red wine, you must drink with moderation and regularity.  An occasional glass is better than no glass, yet overindulging in too many glasses does not provide additional benefits.  In fact, overindulgence is more harmful than total abstinence.   Consequently, the healthful aspects of wine are best reaped when you drink small amounts frequently (in good company!).

“Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.” – Ernest Hemingway

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