You may have heard the term “a glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away.” How true is this statement? Can red wine consumption really boost your health?

According to the experts at WebMD, there is some truth to the “myths” about red wine, but you must keep in mind moderation and limiting your intake to avoid the dangers of too much red wine consumption, such as weight gain.

Parlez-vous Française?

The French have often been cited as an example of how to eat heart-healthy but still enjoy food. The French diet is relatively high in fat from meat, butter and cream but the French still have amazingly low heart disease rates. Some experts attribute this discrepancy to the French habit of having wine, especially red wine, with meals.

However, there are differences besides wine consumption between the French lifestyle and the American lifestyle that may also account for the low heart disease rates. For one thing, the French have a very active lifestyle. Many of them bike or walk almost everywhere rather than driving. Shopping is often done on a day-to-day basis and involves walking to several stores rather than zipping through a supermarket. The French also do not consume much fast food, whereas convenience foods make up a large part of many American diets with the accompanying chemicals and processing that may lead to heart disease. Even though the French eat high-fat foods, most of these foods are in their “natural” form. They French may also practice better portion control than their American counterparts.

How Should I Drink Red Wine To Get Health Benefits?

The first rule of red wine consumption is to enjoy it in moderation. While experts are divided on exactly how much is an acceptable level, most agree that five ounces is a reasonable serving size and that most of the health benefits will come with one drink per day. More puts you at risk of consuming too much alcohol and too many calories.

Further, experts advise that you should drink wine with a meal. According to Arthur Agatston, the doctor who created the South Beach diet, consuming alcohol with a meal may help you to digest your food more slowly, leading to longer feelings of satiety.

What Make Red Wine Healthy?

There are several benefits you receive from red wine, although experts and doctors warn that some of these benefits may have been overemphasized or misunderstood.

  • Provides Antioxidants – The antioxidant resveratrol is abundant in red wine, although you can also get antioxidants from other forms of alcohol as well. Antioxidants fight cancer- and disease-causing chemicals in the body. However, the actual amount of antioxidants in red wine is relatively minimal. You can get just as many antioxidant benefits from leafy green vegetables and consume far fewer calories in the process.
  • Improves Cholesterol Levels – Certain studies have shown that red wine and other alcohols have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, by 20 percent. However, it is important to remember that this increase is only shown to happen if the red wine is consumed as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
  • Improves Mental Function - A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that moderate drinkers actually scored better on mental acuity tests in old age than “teetotalers.” This leads to the possibility that red wine and other forms of alcohol actually increases your mental ability slightly. However, this edge can easily be lost with the consumption of too much alcohol.

What About My Diet?

Most diets advise extreme moderation or abstinence from alcohol. This is not just because of the fact that alcohol is an appetite enhancer but also because it has a high calorie content. One five-ounce glass of red wine has about 100 calories. This may not seem like many, but three glasses of wine would be 17 percent of a day’s caloric intake for an 1800-calorie diet. Obviously, one glass of wine is not usually harmful to a diet, but drinking glass after glass can add up to weight gain.

Another problem with wine is that it provides little nutritive value. When you are on a reduced-calorie diet, it is important to select foods that give you good nutrition within your caloric limits. This usually means fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than wine.

The Threat of Alcoholism

While many people are able to successfully sip a glass of wine a day, some people seem to have much more trouble controlling alcohol intake. If you find that you are unable to drink only one glass of wine and end up drinking more than you planned, you should be very cautious about alcohol intake. Alcoholism is a very real problem for thousands of people, so seek help immediately if you have trouble controlling your alcohol intake, find yourself drinking when depressed or upset, or drink at odd times of the day.

Essentially, red wine can give your health a boost if you are careful not to overdo your drinking. Enjoy your glass of wine with a meal and start seeing the health advantages that red wine can give you.