Dr. Kim Foster: Wicked Health


The Health Benefits of Red Wine

(Like You Need An Excuse)

It’s BlissDom this weekend. I must admit, I’m fairly giddy with anticipation of this event. Mostly, I can't wait to finally meet all the fabulous women I’ve come know online. (Also, to be on a plane all by myself. I can read a book! I don’t have to cut anyone’s meal into bite-sized pieces for them!) And although I’m a BlissDom virgin, from everything I can gather about this weekend (and everything I know about the ladies in attendance)...I'm going to go ahead and assume: there will be wine involved.

So. This strikes me as a perfect time to do a little roundup of the health benefits of wine.   

Are you with me?

Heart health

This is the biggie—this is where the lion’s share of research has shown significant health benefits of wine. Red wine, in particular. Moderate wine consumption appears to protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, boosting HDL (“good” cholesterol), and inhibiting blood clot formation. It’s all those lovely antioxidants, resveratrol in particular, that give wine its heart-happy properties. While we're at it, here are 10 more heart-healthy habits.

Bone health

Recent studies have suggested that wine may improve bone density, and possibly reduce the risk of fracture. This is provided, of course, you don’t over-indulge, stumble, and fracture your ankle. Please don’t do this.

Sex life

A study of nearly 800 women, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in Oct 2009, found that women who enjoyed regular, moderate intake of red wine had higher sexual desire, lubrication, and overall sexual function, as compared to teetotalers. How lovely is that?

Stroke prevention

In a study of more than 80,000 women, published earlier this year, researchers reported that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption (a glass or two of wine daily) was associated with a reduced risk of stroke, by about 20%. Big study, big benefit.

Brain health

A Norwegian study showed that people who consumed flavonoid-rich wine, chocolate, or tea had significantly better scores on cognitive tests than those who did not. Participants who consumed all 3 goodies (chocolate, wine, and tea) had the best test scores. The effect was most pronounced for wine, and a little weaker for chocolate. (Not that we want to take anything away from chocolate—it has its own delightful list of health benefits).

Now, of course I would be remiss if I did not administer a warning about the dangers of alcohol. Obviously, you can overdo it on the booze. Sloppy-drunk is not pretty. Alcoholism is even uglier. There are serious long-term complications caused by heavy alcohol drinking. And clearly, it’s not a good mixer with pregnancy.

But, as long as you’re smart about it, I think there is much benefit to be had.

And, there’s one last perk I want to mention. It’s not one proven by science, but it’s one we can all understand—and it’s all about the enjoyment of life. Wine is part of a Mediterranean diet and it’s a cornerstone of French joie de vivre. It’s a sensory experience, it’s something to be savoured with friends, it’s the perfect elixir for any celebration. It’s both luxurious and accessible, and in my book it’s the ultimate in wicked health. Wine is one of the finest pleasures out there; the health benefits are merely the icing on the cake.

But I’ll take them.

And so will my fellow BlissDom-istas, I have a sneaky suspicion.