With a familiar nip in the air, our thoughts turn to comfort foods that provide warmth and nourishment for cooler days filled with leaf raking followed for many by snow shoveling. And what could go better with a hearty stew than a glass of red wine? It’s good for us, right?
While a glass of red wine each day may have health benefits, research suggests that many of the health benefits can also be provided by drinking red or purple grape juice or eating dark grapes. The latter has the added benefit of providing fiber as well as antioxidants. Grape juice, however, is high in sugar and should be limited to no more than one 8 to 12 oz serving each day if taken in place of red wine or grapes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, red and purple grapes can help reduce the risk of blood clots, lower bad or LDL cholesterol, prevent damage to blood vessels in the heart and may help maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Red wine contains more polyphenols (antioxidants) than white wine or beer. Antioxidants fight inflammation associated with aging and may offer protection against cognitive decline, degenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease and possibly cancer and stroke. And some studies have linked moderate alcohol consumption with an increase in healthy HDL cholesterol and a reduction in the clumping of platelets which can lead to blood clots.
The key of course is moderation; one glass of dry red wine with a healthy Mediterranean meal may help control a spike in blood sugar following eating which contributes to inflammation. But drinking more than a glass of wine each day on a regular basis can lead to an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, cancer and memory problems including dementia.
Moderate drinking is defined as 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals who do not drink alcohol should not start drinking alcohol for any reason, even perceived benefits.
To learn more about the health benefits of grapes, grape juice and wine visit the StrokeSmart website by following this link.