Is Red Wine Good for Your Health?

The myth: Red wine is good for your health. True or false? Mike Dawson has the answer.

ca. 1935, Paris, France --- Bartender Serving Wine to Customers --- Image by © Lucien Aigner/CORBIS

Photo: Corbis

The idea that it's healthy to drink a fermented, sugar-loaded (read: carb-loaded) liquid that dehydrates you, shocks the liver, leaves you hungover, and can fuel some seriously head-shaking decisions might seem, well, laughable. But that fact is, you are going to drink it anyway. So let's take a closer look. Are there really health benefits to consuming red wine regularly?

First, red wines have high levels of resveratrol, an antioxidant that several studies indicate may help ward off cancer and protect the heart. But you benefit from these positives when you have a glass or two. The damage you do to your body from excessive consumption will essentially drown out resveratrol's benefits.

Next, wine does have flavonoids. Like resveratrol, these compounds are especially present in the heavy reds wines from the South of France (including Syrahs, Grenaches, etc.) and have been shown to help protect your body against UV rays, regardless of how much you put away. Perhaps more important, in another study, those who drank these flavonoid-packed wines regularly—which likely includes more than just a few overindulgent evenings—actually lived longer than the general population.

So what's the takeaway? Basically, the unsexy notion you've likely heard before: Red wine is good for you—certainly in moderation, and to some extent beyond that, provided you only overimbibe occasionally and live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

— Dawson is a magazine writer and editor, and a regular contributor to Details.

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