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Health Effects

Posted on Aug 30, 2019 in Wine Health Effects , Tom Ward , September–October 2019

How does wine work with my healthy lifestyle?

Many of us have been paying attention and learning from new information about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. An increase of knowledge about superfoods and what they can do, as well as being active, has changed how many of us approach a meal, dieting and lifestyle. We’ve all heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” To a certain extent this may be true, although one is actively ingesting carcinogens and the other (a sedentary lifestyle) isn’t the healthiest existence. The question remains, “how does wine fit with a healthy diet and lifestyle?” I would use one word: moderation. This is also a difficult thing for so many people.

We’ve all heard that alcohol can be damaging to our livers, throats and sugar levels, it can cause grey hair, and even affect whether the sun continues to rise in the east and set in the west. I can remember being told that eggs were good for us, then that they were bad for us, and now they’re good for us again. Cured meats are bad, and a recent study stating that all meats raise your cholesterol and therefore, are bad. The bottom line is that if you’re looking for data to support a position and push it forward, lending it credibility, there is a study out there to further that point. Let’s look at the current science regarding wine and its health benefits.

It has been common knowledge for about 20 years now that moderate consumption of wine has a slew of health benefits, such as lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Considering these are the two most prolific killers of people today, this is good news and why wouldn’t a person drink wine with moderation? It has been shown that wine consumption can reduce the damaging cardiovascular effects of LDL (bad cholesterol). One to two glasses a day is all that it takes to achieve this and to help HDL (the good cholesterol) usher the LDL out of your blood stream. This is due to the substance called “Phenols” or “polyphenols,” which are available in other superfoods like dark berries, kale, cabbage spinach, broccoli, certain grains and beans. While soybeans are highest in phenols, soy has large effects on estrogen levels, so the jury is still out on soy in my book.

What are phenols or polyphenols and where do they come from? The form that one wants to ingest is from plant-based foods (berries, nuts, vegetables and certain fruits). They are packed with antioxidants, and while some adverse effects have been reported, those usually come from taking supplements. We should try to maximize our phenols through our diet, and luckily, wine has them naturally. One of the other side effects of phenols is their ability to suppress the growth of cancer cells, specifically breast and prostate cancers. As a side note, resveratrol, which is also found in wine, can stop liver cancer growth. Red wine is loaded with antioxidants that have been shown to fight cancer, so drink up (one to two glasses a day). Wine was one of the first superfoods. While white wine doesn’t have the same levels of phenols or resveratrol as red wines, but they do still have some, so don’t feel as though you’re not getting any health benefits from white wine.

My favorite wine bar in Seaside, Ji•Shi Ki•chn (formerly 45 Central), has introduced a new superfood rich menu. It is a great way to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine while enjoying the health benefits of these superfoods, with their antioxidants and myriad of other benefits. Part of living the good life is enjoying ourselves and treating our bodies right. After all, it’s the only one we’ve got. Let’s not forget that it’s relaxing to unwind with a glass or two of wine.

So, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine, guilt-free, and know that you are contributing to your health. It is a legitimate component to a healthy lifestyle. Try new varietals and food pairings. Drink quality wines vs mass produced. As always, I hope that you walk away from this wanting to try different wines, feeling good about enjoying wine, and are more comfortable with wine. Cheers!

Tom Ward ( is the owner and operator of ATL Vineyard Express wine tours in Atlanta, Ga. He has worked in the wine industry for more than 25 years and has his Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 certification. Ward loves sharing his passion for wine with those who want to learn more.

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