Red wine contains a number of compounds called flavonoids, antioxidants and polyphenols, including one called resveratrol, that may have health benefits. However, drinking alcohol to excess can be detrimental to your health, so balance the possible benefits with the possible risks to determine how much to drink.
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Possible Health Benefits
The resveratrol in red wine may help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and age-related degenerative diseases, according to an article published in 2009 in "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research." Resveratrol may lower your risk for blood clots and inflammation and lower your cholesterol. Red wine can help increase your beneficial HDL cholesterol and reduce your risk for blood clots and artery damage, notes a study in the October -- December 2010 issue of the "Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research."
If you don't already drink alcohol, you shouldn't start, according to the American Heart Association. To get the possible health benefits from red wine, drink in moderation. This means one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, or less; 5 ounces of wine is considered one drink. Just four to seven glasses of wine per week can lower your risk for prostate cancer, according to the Harvard Medical School.
Possible Negative Effects
Drinking alcohol can lead to alcohol abuse in some people. Excessive alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, high triglycerides, obesity, liver disease, car accidents, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, physical abuse, irregular heart rhythms, suicide and swelling of the pancreas, according to MedlinePlus.
Pregnant women should not consume wine or other types of alcohol since this increases the risk of birth defects. You can get similar benefits to those from drinking red wine by making other healthy choices, including consuming lots of fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of exercise. Resveratrol is also found in blueberries, grapes, peanuts, cranberries and raspberries.