Red wine has always cropped up in features and research studies over the years for its possible health benefits. You’ve probably had a wine-loving friend extol the virtues of a glass or two, to keep up the health of your heart. But now, as some new studies seem to indicate, red wine might even help you knock off some extra pounds. So how much of this is fact, and how much is wishful thinking?
Red wine always crops up in features and research studies for its possible health benefits. Wine-lovers too rave about the virtues of a glass or two to keep up heart health. But now, as some new studies seem to indicate, red wine might even help you knock off some extra pounds. So how much of this is fact and how much is wishful thinking?
Lose Some Pounds
Recent studies have indeed been exciting when it comes to red wine and weight loss. A much quoted Harvard study tracked a group of 20,000 older and middle-aged women of normal weight for a period of 13 years. At the end of the period, it was found that daily wine drinkers, who consumed about two glasses a day, were less likely to be overweight compared to those who didn’t drink wine (33 percent as against 43 percent for non-drinkers).1
Cut That Fat
Resveratrol is the polyphenol that’s red wine’s true claim to fame. Found in grapes, and by extension in red wine, this may hold the answer to your evening drink helping burn fat. A Washington State University study on mice found that when the animals were given resveratrol, they put on 40 percent less weight compared to mice in the control group. The researchers found that resveratrol helps the body change white fat into brown or beige fat that can be burnt off much easier. The polyphenol works by boosting gene expression that is responsible for oxidizing dietary fats. This breakthrough study has huge implications for both treating metabolic dysfunction and preventing obesity.2
Red wine also contains quercetin, a potent flavonoid that can help lower your cholesterol levels. Multiple studies have proven the effectiveness of quercetin3, including in overweight individuals who benefited from the lowering of LDL concentration in the blood as a result of taking quercetin or having it in an alcohol-free version of red wine extract.4
Animal studies have also shown that red wine can be effective in preventing atherosclerosis through the complementary action of ethanol alongside phenolics. In test subjects that took a red wine phenolic extract, the triglyceride and plasma cholesterol concentrations were both lower than in other groups. The aortic fatty streak area also declined significantly.5
But Isn’t It Fattening?
Wine, sweet as it may be, isn’t loaded with sugar and as fattening as you might imagine. In fact, much of what constitutes a glass of wine is way down on the glycemic index with low scores. And because it doesn’t produce glucose or quickly burning sugars, it has even been suggested as being beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. As one study found, wine, as a grape product, has a mean glycemic load and glycemic index (indicators of quality and quantity of carbohydrates in the food) that is very much in the low range.6
Separate studies have confirmed that moderate consumption of wine with your meals does not have any adverse effects on your glycemic control even if you are diabetic. Researchers attribute this to the phytates and tannins in red wine. And that’s good news for you, because unlike the long list of taboo items on a typical low glycemic index diet, which features favorites like white bread, sugary drinks, dried fruits and beer, red wine is not off the cards.7
As Good As Grape Juice?
When you’re trying to lose weight, one of the first things any nutritionist recommends is upping your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables to boost your fiber, vitamin, and antioxidant intake naturally. As it turns out, your glass of wine could serve as a good replacement for some of that intake. One group of researchers studied how moderate intake of white wine affected the weight of an obese and overweight cohort. They found that not only did all their test subjects see a loss in body weight, they also had a reduction in waist circumference, body fat percentage, blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride numbers. The caveat here, however, is that the wine intake was not in addition to the calories already being consumed. Instead, the wine made up 10 percent of the calories in their diet, much as grape juice normally would in an energy-restricted diet.8
Not All Wines Are Equal
What kind of wine you drink may also matter. While red wine contains all the goodness you’ve just read about, researchers have found that white wine doesn’t seem to offer the same benefits or protection. One study evaluated the relative content of quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin, three flavonols, in Finnish berry wines. While red berry and red grape wines contained varying levels of these flavonols, white grape wines had none, and gooseberry and white currant wines contained only quercetin in very small amounts.9
Is Drinking Wine The Best Option?
If you are a teetotaller, this doesn’t mean you should rush into the nearest store to get yourself a bottle of wine. Many researchers caution that while wine does have these beneficial polyphenols, you could get them just as well from alternative sources. In fact, some may offer a higher concentration of these nutrients. According to a report on the Food & Wine portal,10 the lead on the resveratrol study at Washington State University himself recommends having grapes or even strawberries and blueberries over drinking red wine to get your dose of the polyphenols. That’s because some of the nutrients could get filtered out when the wine is being produced, leaving behind tipple that’s just as delicious but perhaps not as good for health as you’d hope.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Wang, Lu, I-Min Lee, JoAnn E. Manson, Julie E. Buring, and Howard D. Sesso. “Alcohol consumption, weight gain, and risk of becoming overweight in middle-aged and older women.” Archives of internal medicine 170, no. 5 (2010): 453-461.|
|2.||↑||WSU scientists turn white fat into obesity-fighting beige fat, Washington State University.|
|3.||↑||Chopra, Mridula, Patricia EE Fitzsimons, John J. Strain, David I. Thurnham, and Alan N. Howard. “Nonalcoholic red wine extract and quercetin inhibit LDL oxidation without affecting plasma antioxidant vitamin and carotenoid concentrations.” Clinical Chemistry 46, no. 8 (2000): 1162-1170.|
|4.||↑||Quercetin, University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|5.||↑||Auger, Cyril, Bertrand Caporiccio, Nicolas Landrault, Pierre Louis Teissedre, Caroline Laurent, Gérard Cros, Pierre Besançon, and Jean-Max Rouanet. “Red wine phenolic compounds reduce plasma lipids and apolipoprotein B and prevent early aortic atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus).” The Journal of nutrition 132, no. 6 (2002): 1207-1213.|
|6.||↑||Zunino, Susan J. “Type 2 diabetes and glycemic response to grapes or grape products.” The Journal of nutrition 139, no. 9 (2009): 1794S-1800S.|
|7.||↑||Gin, Henri, Philippe Morlat, Jean M. Ragnaud, and Jean Aubertin. “Short-term effect of red wine (consumed during meals) on insulin requirement and glucose tolerance in diabetic patients.” Diabetes Care 15, no. 4 (1992): 546-548.|
|8.||↑||Flechtner-Mors, M., H. K. Biesalski, C. P. Jenkinson, G. Adler, and H. H. Ditschuneit. “Effects of moderate consumption of white wine on weight loss in overweight and obese subjects.” International journal of obesity 28, no. 11 (2004): 1420-1426.|
|9.||↑||Vuorinen, Helena, Kaisu Määttä, and Riitta Törrönen. “Content of the flavonols myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol in Finnish berry wines.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 48, no. 7 (2000): 2675-2680.|
|10.||↑||Drinking Wine Before Bed Could Help You Lose Weight, Says Science, Food & Wine.|