- Dr. Mercola
Wine: The Benefits of Alcohol Consumption
Where Do the Benefits of Alcohol Consumption Come From?
With all the damaging influences of alcohol, it may seem odd that low alcohol consumption is widely accepted as having health benefits. One of the main keys to account for this discrepancy is likely one specific ingredient: resveratrol. This powerful antioxidant found in grape skins, and hence red wine, belongs to a family of compounds known as polyphenols, which combat damaging free radicals in your body.
Resveratrol can lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol while raising "good" HDL cholesterol, and can decrease the production of a protein that plays a major role in your development of heart disease. Interestingly, the study above did not just measure red wine consumption, but all types of alcoholic beverages, so resveratrol cannot fully explain the alleged benefits found. However, I still believe there are flaws in the self reporting of the study that led to an incorrect conclusion.
That said, resveratrol is generally believed to be the beneficial ingredient that gives red wine its health benefits – when consumed in moderation; about a glass or two a day.
I, however, still believe that even low consumption of red wine can do more harm than good, simply because of its alcohol content. Fortunately, you can still get the benefits of resveratrol without the alcohol.
The Health Benefits of Resveratrol
Resveratrol is unique among antioxidants because it can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect your brain and nervous system, and studies show that its benefits are wide reaching, including:
Protecting your cells from free radical damage
Inhibiting the spread of cancer, especially prostate cancer
Lowering your blood pressure
Keeping your heart healthy and improving elasticity in your blood vessels
Normalizing your anti-inflammatory response
Helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Because resveratrol appears to be so effective at warding off many diseases associated with aging, it is often referred to as a “fountain of youth” that can extend lifespan.
Resveratrol actually appears to produce many benefits similar to exercise, including lowering insulin levels, which is a key to fighting disease and staying young. Naturally, I do NOT suggest you replace exercise with resveratrol. But I do suspect it can be a powerful addition to exercise, and I personally take resveratrol because of this belief.
If you are interested in trying out some resveratrol for yourself, there are numerous products already on the market. Just be sure to look for one made from muscadine grapes that uses WHOLE grape skins and seeds, as this is where many of the benefits are concentrated.
Do You Drink Too Much?
Most alcohol misuse and abuse stems from deep emotional challenges. Addressing these issues at a deep level is imperative to avoid the negative health consequences--both physical and mental--that inevitably result from excessive drinking.