It can help boost your memory – according to researchers at the University of Exeter. Given up to 4 units of alcohol volunteers remembered lists of words better than those who had none. Wine grapes contain anti-oxidants called polyphenols with one of them, resveratrol, particularly associated with health benefits including keeping muscles supple.
Red wine contains more of the anti-oxidant resveratrol which has been linked with longer life span in animals and anti-cancer effects on cells in laboratories.
Another study found that a phenolic compound found in champagne helped improve spatial memory. So best to drink champagne if you have to find your way back home afterwards!
Wine can also protect against diabetes, which has got to be a good thing given the increasing number of people with it in the UK. So 14 units a week for men and nine for women reduces the chance of Type 2 diabetes by 43% for men and 58% for women!
Several studies have looked at the effect of drinking wine on the immune system and a University of California study in 2013 found that a glass of wine a day helped stave off infections such as colds. The effect was found to be especially strong, in an earlier study, among people who drank more than 14 units a week. They had 40% less chance of catching a cold than teetotallers. Again red wine better than white because it has more of the anti-oxidants.
Studies in Denmark of over 20,000 post-menopausal women found that drinking wine can have a protective effect on the heart. Other studies suggest that moderate drinkers have lower rates of heart disease compared to teetotallers, hence the view that wine is good for your heart.
This may be due to a flavonoid called procyanadin which is linked to lower blood pressure.The best wines for this are those where the skin and seeds have remained in contact with the grapes during fermentation such as those from the Nuoro province of Sardinia and Madiran in the Pyrenees.
Researchers in Canada also believe, after studying over 9,000 adults aged 23 to 55, that moderate drinkers i.e. those who drink up to two glasses a day, had a lower risk of heart disease than non-drinkers. This effect wore off as people got older however. The scientists think that the reason teetotallers are more at risk is not that they don’t drink – but they are probably ill or can’t drink because of their medication.
Studies at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women who drank 3 glasses of wine a day were half as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, a disease where the immune system attacks the joints rather than infections as it is supposed to do. Drinking wine might interfere with that process.
Italian scientists in Milan think that the compounds tyrosol and caffein acid, found in white wine, act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Two glasses a day maximum could reduce the inflammatory reaction
Red wine has also been linked with breast cancer. Studies in California found that red wine reduces the oestrogen levels and elevates testosterone levels in pre-menopausal women. White wine didn’t have the same effect.
However there is also research from the World Cancer Fund which suggest that women drinking only half a glass of wine a day increases a woman’s risk of cancer after menopause by 9%.
And women who want to get pregnant should be aware of the Danish research that shows that drinking one glass of wine a day lowered the chance of conceiving by 18%
So good news overall with some caveats. Red wine seems better than white except for people with rheumatoid arthritis and probably no wine at all if you are trying to get pregnant.