You've heard that red wine is good for your health, but is there medical evidence to back that up? The answer: somewhat.
There have been multiple studies done that suggest moderate red wine consumption may have a beneficial cardiovascular effect for certain individuals. One component of red wine, resveratrol, appears to play a role in the positive cardiovascular effects.
A mild decrease in blood pressure and blood vessel dilation are two ways that red wine may promote heart health. Red wine can also cause an increase in "good cholesterol," have antioxidant effects and affect blood clotting, perhaps making it less likely for a clot to form.
These effects were found with moderate daily consumption, which is basically 5 to 10 ounces of wine. Typically, due to differences in body size, this can be estimated as one 5-ounce glass of wine for women or two 5-ounce glasses of wine for men.
Of course, heavier consumption may be harmful and cause other issues such as a weakened heart, irregular heart rhythms or liver disease. Alcohol in any amount can be harmful when pregnant, driving or for recovering alcoholics.
It's important to remember that while there may be some beneficial cardiovascular effects gained by consuming a moderate amount of red wine daily, there are no studies that prove definitively that red wine makes anyone live longer. The jury is still out.
Before making a lifestyle change of adding daily wine consumption, discuss the pros and cons with your physician.
Alex Szymanski, MD, is a cardiologist with Mount Nittany Physician Group. He cares for patients at Mount Nittany's Park Avenue and Mifflin County locations. Read more about cardiology services at www.mountnittany.org/cardiology.
This article was originally published in the September 2011 issue of State College Magazine.