For many people relaxing with a nice glass of wine is one of life’s simple pleasures. Recently, it’s become even more enjoyable as the benefits of wine have made headlines in the media. It’s not everyday something you enjoy is also good for you, too.

So what’s the real scoop?

Supposedly wine can provide protection from some cancers, heart problems, and even boost your brain power. But… there is another side of the coin. Critics warn that wine can also contribute to increased blood pressure, depression, dangerous triglyceride levels, and damage your liver. Do the benefits cancel out the bad?

Here’s the bottom line on 5 popular claims about wine’s healthy benefits:

Wine is a powerful antioxidant. This is true. Flavonoids, the antioxidants found in wine, have heart-healthy benefits. But to get the full flavonoid effect, you should choose wines that have the highest concentration of antioxidants. Dry red wines fit the bill. Drinking in moderation, one five-ounce glass a day or less, ensures you get the best wine has to offer.

Wine has the power to help prevent strokes. Wine contains resveratrol, a substance that provides cardiac benefits as well as the ability to keep strokes at bay. Studies conducted on laboratory mice link resveratrol to less brain damage when exposed to stroke induction techniques. This suggests that the same brain-protect- ing benefits could apply to human brain cells as well.

Wine can boost weight loss. While drinking too many calories can pile on the pounds, drinking wine in moderation could actually help with weight loss. One study involving middle-aged women revealed that teetotalers tend to gain more weight than those who drink in moderation. This could be because wine helps women relax, relieves stress, and relieves stress eating… thus saving in major calorie consumption. And if you enjoy a glass with a friend the social aspect could relieve even more stress.

Wine adds years to your life. What makes you live longer is a healthy body and mind. As wine has been proven to have positive effects on your heart and brain, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke can certainly increase longevity. The key is moderation.

Wine can prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Recent stud- ies link red wine to nerve cell function. Women who drink in moderation scored better on cognitive ability tests. This could possibly be explained by wine’s anti- inflammatory properties, which allow for better blood flow to the brain. These are only preliminary findings so it would be premature to say that wine can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Here’s the verdict on drinking wine.

While studies suggest the health benefits of moderate wine drinking, red wine especially, are strong, that doesn’t mean you should suddenly start drinking it. If you’re looking for antioxidants, you can find plenty in a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and nutritional supplements. Also, if you’re currently a wine drinker, it’s important to remember moderation is crucial.

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