Drink to your health!  In these times when we are focusing on being heart healthy, it should be stated again, even if you have heard it before, that one to two glasses of wine each day is good for you.  The regular drinking of red wine has been suggested as the explanation for the “French paradox,” the relatively low incidence of coronary atherosclerosis in France when compared with other Western countries, despite the generally high intake of saturated fat in the French diet and higher numbers of people who smoke.  Many epidemiological studies have since revealed much concurring data on this subject.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) the main health benefit of moderate alcohol use appears to be related to its effect on the development of atherosclerosis or the accumulation of fatty plaques in the blood vessels, particularly the coronary arteries that supply the heart. These deposits decrease blood flow to the heart and may promote the formation of vessel-blocking clots, which can result in anginal chest pain or even a life-threatening heart attack.  Epidemiology suggests that the group that benefits the most from wine consumption is middle-aged men and women and that there is generally a 30% reduction in risk of developing atherosclerotic disease.  Furthermore, light to moderate alcohol consumption was found to be associated with an approximately 20% reduction in the risk for ischemic stroke and may even be beneficial in preventing subsequent strokes.

Results from the Copenhagen City Heart Study suggested that patients who drank wine had half the risk of dying from coronary heart disease or stroke as those who never drank wine. Those who drank beer and spirits did not experience this advantage.  The chemical composition of red wine may contribute to its apparent benefit.   A series of scientific studies suggests that the polyphenolic compounds in red wine, such as flavonoids and resveratrol, may play an active role in limiting the start and progression of atherosclerosis.

In addition to these finding, more recent studies have shown these compounds in wine have cancer fighting properties.  As anti-oxidants they help rid your body of cancer causing free radicals.  Further, recent laboratory studies have indicated some slowing of the aging process from the consumption of resveratrol.  Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?