Red wine: Understanding how it benefits your heart and mind

In general, red wine contains high antioxidant content that is beneficial for the body, especially for the heart and mind. The antioxidants of red wine come from dark grapes, which are rich in resveratrol, epicatechin, catechin and proanthocyanidins. 

Is red wine good for health ?

Drinking red wine is known to help regulate blood sugar, keeping your levels healthy. It is beneficial because of red wine’s resveratrol content, which makes it extremely helpful for people suffering from type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Resveratrol is a natural compound extracted from grape skin and used in making bottles of red wine, which is also commercially sold as red grape juice or red wine. Many health researchers study resveratrol as a powerful antioxidant in improving many functions within the body. 

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Can resveratrol lower blood sugar?

One of the studies about resveratrol is its properties in lowering the body’s blood sugar for up to 24 hours. Upon drinking a moderate amount of red wine, resveratrol’s beneficial effects are claimed to start kicking in within a few minutes to hours. Resveratrol’s benefits in blood sugar regulation may definitely help people who have high blood pressure. 

Furthermore, the research shows that resveratrol has some properties that can control the cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure of a person taking 250 mg of resveratrol supplements every day.  

After three months of research, scientists found that the study participants were able to have lowered glucose levels in their blood more compared to those who did not take resveratrol supplements.

Furthermore, despite the fact that red wine contains natural sugars, it is still found to effectively help in regulating blood sugar, as per the American Diabetes Association [1]. 

Take note red wine is not equivalent to actual glucose management medications prescribed by healthcare professionals. Drinking red wine must not be used as an alternative for blood sugar treatment plans. One to two glasses of red wine may only be added to the diet. 

Is red wine cardioprotective?

Cardiovascular disease is considered the major cause of death in most countries, while the second-highest number of deaths in Canada. Hence, a group of Canadian researchers has explored further the potential benefits of resveratrol against cardiovascular disease.

Is red wine cardioprotective?

The researchers argued that there are advanced medical treatments for cardiovascular diseases, but patients’ medical conditions eventually progress to heart failure. Consequently, heart failure is another frontline of medical concern.  

Heart failure is medically treated through various “traditional” pharmacotherapies, and these have shown success in reducing mortality brought by heart failure. 

However, the goal is not just to treat cardiovascular disease and heart failure but also to help in prevention by using alternative pharmacotherapies, particularly nutraceuticals. 

One of the natural compounds being eyed in helping treat and prevent cardiovascular disease and heart failure is resveratrol–yes, the antioxidant found in red wine [2].

Is there scientific evidence for resveratrol?

In preclinical effects found in resveratrol, there are many randomized clinical trials conducted to discover whether the promising effect can have the same effects on healthy and diseased individuals. 

However, many of the resveratrol trials utilized highly variable protocols and doses and suffered from small sample sizes. 

Also, the randomized clinical trials of resveratrol in healthy participants commonly apply paradigms that are only appropriate for diseased people, resulting in potentially flawed interpretations of resveratrol as ineffective [3]. 

The previous research shortcomings and variable and limited bioavailability of resveratrol resulted in a more difficult interpretation of the main cause of why the randomized clinical trial has neutral results. 

Is it due to dosing, sample size (or both), overall lack of potency of natural resveratrol (which is possibly fixed through chemical techniques or analogs) or just simply an ineffectiveness of the compound in treating a person with cardiovascular disease regardless of potency and dose [4]?

What effect does resveratrol have on cholesterol?

Sipping a glass of red wine is also found to be helpful in decreasing bad cholesterol in the body. In fact, research shows that high-fiber Tempranillo red grapes that are used in producing certain varieties of red wines can lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or simply bad cholesterol in the body [5].

Additionally, moderate red wine consumption can protect the lining of your blood vessels located in the heart while also simultaneously promoting HDL or good cholesterol. When you have enough good cholesterol, your body can flush out low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. 

Meanwhile, if your body has a significant amount of bad cholesterol, you are at a high risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Thus, drinking red wine may aid in decreasing bad cholesterol that may cause artery damage [6]. Then, drinking too much red wine can ultimately reverse its positive effects on heart health.

From a different perspective, many studies on resveratrol are actually mixed. Some research studies indicate that resveratrol could be associated with a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can potentially lower the risk of heart disease; however, other studies found no apparent benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.

Meaning more research is needed to determine if resveratrol can truly lower the risk of inflammation and blood clotting.

Should you drink red wine to improve heart health?

Both blood sugar and cholesterol levels have impacts on heart function, so when you are able to manage to make these two stable at a normal level, it could have a positive impact on your heart health. 

Moreover, red wine’s polyphenols content is what health professionals consider heart-healthy. Polyphenols are a kind of antioxidant that can aid in preventing fatal blood clotting by helping the blood vessels become more flexible. 

Consuming foods and beverages rich in polyphenols can lower your risk of developing heart disease as well. 

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What are the mental benefits of red wine?

Aside from keeping your heart healthy, moderate consumption of red wine can also benefit your brain health. 

Interestingly, red wine’s resveratrol is found beneficial in keeping the memory sharp and lowering the risk of dementia, which pertains to a group of brain conditions affecting memory function that is commonly experienced in the elderly. 

Many research studies have proven that red wine consumption is helpful in reducing the risk factors of dementia, which can eventually be developed into Alzheimer’s disease [7]. 

Can Alzheimer’s patients drink wine?

You may suffer from cognitive impairment as a result of a complex network of molecular mechanisms in the brain, which commonly leads to dementia. 

In fact, effective disease-modifying approaches are still missing in many research of molecular determinants of dementia in Alzheimer’s type. It still remains an interesting and still largely unexplored avenue offered by nutraceutical intervention.

For example, relevant epidemiological data have indicated that moderate intake of red wine may prevent several age-related pathological conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and DAT-related cognitive decline. 

Can Alzheimer's patients drink wine?

Resveratrol has been a well-recognized antioxidant that may modulate metal ion deregulation results as well as the major features of the Alzheimer’s disease brain. The potential of resveratrol as a neuroprotectant in dementia relative to the oxidative stress brought by amyloid and metal dysmetabolism has been the focus of many research studies [7].

Furthermore, another research indicates that resveratrol can prevent the growth of beta-amyloid protein, which is a key ingredient in the plaque of the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Some epidemiological studies added that moderate consumption of wine is linked to decreased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because of wine’s rich antioxidant compounds that have potential neuroprotective activities. 

Nonetheless, the actual molecular mechanisms involved in the beneficial effects of red wine consumption on the neurodegenerative process in Alzheimer’s disease brain keep being clearly defined.

In the research, resveratrol is found to be a naturally occurring polyphenol primarily acquired from grapes and red wine, which can lower the levels of secreted and intracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides made from various cell lines.

Also, resveratrol does not prevent Aβ production because it has no apparent effect on the Aβ-producing enzymes β- and γ-secretases; however, it promotes intracellular degradation of Aβ via a mechanism instead which involves the proteasome. 

Moreover, the lowered resveratrol-induced Aβ could be used in prevention by certain selective proteasome inhibitors and by siRNA-directed silencing of the proteasome subunit β5.

In the end, the research found the proteasome-dependent anti-amyloidogenic activity of resveratrol and suggested that resveratrol as a natural compound has therapeutic potential in treating Alzheimer’s disease [8]. 

A corrupted type of beta-amyloid is found to destroy nerve cells, which can result in a loss of thought and memory in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, numerous recent studies added that resveratrol contains properties that can lower memory damage due to sleep deprivation, particularly memory deficits. Resveratrol can also boost the brain’s ability to learn and cognitive processing functions [9]. 

Is red wine good for depression?

Daily moderate red wine consumption helps prevent depression.  In a research conducted among middle-aged to elderly individuals, the researchers discovered that drinking moderate to low amounts of alcohol every day can result in fewer symptoms and a reduced risk of depression compared to people who drink excessively [10]. For that reason, people who have a few regular sips in a glass of red wine have a low tendency to experience depression than those who don’t.

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[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26458258/ 
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413130/ 
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24073437/ 
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26221416 
[5] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281# 
[6] https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24193626 
[7] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2014.00095/full 
[8] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002192582059193X 
[9] https://doi.org/10.5114/aoms.2019.85463 
[10] https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/drinking-a-little-bit-of-alcohol-makes-you-less-depressed-than-drinking-none

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