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Raise a Glass to your Health

Continue to raise that glass (in moderation, of course) if you want to maximize the health benefits of wine. Recent studies claim a variety of benefits can be linked to low or moderate alcohol consumption, approximately two drinks or less per day. Here are the top five takeaways.


Low levels of alcohol can decrease inflammation and help the brain clear away toxins

Published in the February 2018 issue of the journal Scientific Reports, a study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center demonstrated that mice exposed to low levels of alcohol showed less inflammation in the brain and a more efficient glymphatic system, which serves as the brain’s waste clearance system. The research may be promising for scientists that study age-related ailments like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“Consumption of alcohol has a ‘J’ shape curve on health,” says Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead author of the study. “Small consumption is beneficial when looking at large populations, whereas high is not.”


Antioxidant compounds found in red wine are advancing heart disease treatments

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., but hope may be found in your favorite Pinot. Or more specifically, in two antioxidant compounds prevalent in red wine: resveratrol and quercetin.

“My colleagues and I have developed a stent, or a small mesh tube that supports a blood vessel, which releases red wine antioxidants slowly over time to promote healing and to prevent future blood clotting and inflammation,” says Dr. Tammy Dugas, a professor in the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at Louisiana State University.

She and other researchers are also developing a balloon, which a surgeon can insert and inflate in a blocked or narrow artery to widen it and allow blood to flow through to the heart, coated with these compounds to treat peripheral artery disease, which can limit blood flow to major organs.


Moderate drinking may lead to a longer life

Don’t discourage grandma from reaching for the vino. Research presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in February 2018 found that moderate drinking could be linked to longer life.

The 90+ study, based at the University of California-Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, is a long-term examination of the health of individuals aged 90 and beyond. According to research, which includes a 2007 paper published by Drs. Annlia Paganini-Hill, Claudia Kawas and María M. Corrada, data suggests that consumption of approximately two glasses of alcohol a day was linked to a 15% reduction in the risk of early death.


Red wine lovers may enjoy a slight decrease in prostate cancer risk

Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in American men, but moderate consumption of red wine may be related to a 12% decrease in the risk to develop the disease.

In late 2017, a multinational research team conducted a meta-analysis of 83 previously published articles and 17 studies that met specific criteria for the project. The results, published in an April 2018 issue of Clinical Epidemiology, found that not all wine is created equal: White wine drinkers faced a slight increase in prostate cancer risk.


Drinking wine may improve oral health

Does a gargle of Garganega count as proper dental hygiene? Not yet, though a study that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in February 2018 implies a link between oral health and wine.

Spanish researchers found that antioxidants present in red wine prevented plaque-causing bacteria to adhere to gum tissue. That result was enhanced when the antioxidants were combined with the oral probiotic Streptococcus dentisani.

However, the benefits aren’t tied to wine alone. The polyphenols identified (caffeic and p-coumaric acid), are also present in other foods like coffee and plums, respectively. Sadly, to enjoy a bottle of red doesn’t equal a healthy mouth. Researchers say that the chemicals analyzed in the study were far higher in concentration than those present in wine.

By Alexis Korman