Wine and Health
Great Science or Great Marketing?

Wine has been recommended to combat fever, disinfect wounds and provide nutritional supplements by physicians as long ago as 450 BC. However, Greek science once taught that the stars moved on heavenly spheres, so it is important to be cautious.

Many studies since have provided ample evidence of the truth of Hippocrates early observations. Since the 1970s a great number of studies have concluded that moderate intake of red wine indeed has positive health benefits. However, the exact reasons are still being debated.

A class of compounds found in red wine known as catechins (flavanoids) help prevent coronary disease and possibly some forms of cancer. They act as anti-oxidants and anti-coagulants much like resveratrol, which aids grapes in fighting fungal infections. Free radicals, such as; ionized oxygen atoms in the blood, are known to cause cellular damage. These free radicals are removed by anti-oxidants.

Other studies have suggested that red wine raises HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and discourages LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from forming. Aside from cholesterol regulation, many pathogens that threaten humans are inhibited or destroyed by the acids and ethanol found in wine. It comes as no surprise that until the mid-18th century wine was considered safer for daily consumption than water in Western countries.

A more recent study found in the American Journal of Physiology indicates that resveratrol inhibits the formation of a protein that reduces the heart's pumping efficiency during times of stress.

Moderate wine consumption decreases the risk of peptic ulcers, possibly by ridding the body of the type of bacteria that causes them, according to the American Journal of Gastroenterology study in 2003.

A 14 year Harvard School of Public Health study that studied 100,000 women suggests that even diabetes occurrence may be reduced by moderate (one to two drinks per day) alcohol imbibing. Exceptions include pre-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer. These women are recommended to consume no alcohol whatsoever.

Like anything consumed, there are risks. A small percentage of the population is sensitive to sulfites contained in many wines. While wine is absent of fat and cholesterol it does contain sugars and small quantities of sodium, and obviously alcohol. It doesn't take much to become too much.

Those who suffer digestive tract disorders, liver disease or kidney problems, among many other ailments, should not drink wine.

Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.

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