After a long, hard day, who doesn’t want to kick back with a glass of wine? It’s yummy and relaxing. You’ve probably heard enjoying alcohol in moderation won’t kill you, and you may have even heard that it’s heart friendly. The French and Italians seem to drink to their health. So you want to believe that a daily sip is a safe way to unwind. Well, yes … and no. Even though wine gets lots of positive press, new research regarding the health benefits reveals plenty of pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know before uncorking your next bottle.
Pro: Wine and Heart Health
Grapes and wine contain polyphenols, substances which act as antioxidants. Thanks to those anti-inflammatory properties, they can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and boost beneficial HDL cholesterol. Red wine in particular has been praised for its heart-health benefits, which include preventing blood clots and lowering your blood sugar. So a glass of red wine may help reduce your risk for heart disease, provided it’s no more than one glass a day.
Con: Wine and Cancer
Heart-healthy headlines ignore other diseases, particularly cancer. In fact, drinking any kind of alcohol (even wine) has been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon. And new research on breast cancer is particularly sobering. Ladies, you might be surprised to learn that 5 percent of breast cancer cases are linked to alcohol alone. After menopause, if you make that drink a daily habit, your chances of developing breast cancer climb to 11 percent.
Pro: Wine and Diabetes
On the plus side, recent research also reveals that drinking any kind of alcohol, especially wine, may help protect against type 2 diabetes. But you don’t have to be heavy handed to sip in the benefits—just one tiny ounce of vino a day may help trim your risk by 20 percent.
Con: Wine and Calories
More sips bigger hips? It’s no surprise that alcohol serves up extra calories. One glass of red wine can add 123 calories to your day and 860 calories to your week. And while one study shows that a little bit of wine won’t prevent you from losing weight if you’re strict about counting calories, other research isn’t so favorable. Slinging back a glass every day could pack on over 12 pounds per year, which are likely to migrate toward your belly. Plus, how much control do you really have when it comes to wine? One glass has a way of splashing into a second, and can loosen your inhibitions and increase appetite, so you’re prone to eating more, too.
How to Imbibe Intelligently
If you’re worried about your cancer risk and you’d like to stay trim, set down the Chardonnay. You might be better off sipping sparkling water with lemon daily, and saving that glass for the occasional treat. But for some people, a daily glass of wine can be a perfectly healthy habit. Either way, when you do uncork a bottle, remember that wine only delivers its health benefits when enjoyed in moderation. That’s a maximum of 5 ounces a day for women and 10 for men. Which tends to look smaller than you’d think, especially after a glass of you-know-what.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.