The polyphenols in red wine may help prevent metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes by helping your body regulate blood-sugar levels and fat metabolism, according to a January 2011 “Food and Function” study. White wine also contains such polyphenols, but in much smaller amounts. Recommending any type of wine to help control diabetes is premature and, under certain circumstances, is risky.
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Any type of alcohol, including white wine, can cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, immediately after consuming it and for eight to 12 hours after drinking, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you choose to drink white wine, check your blood glucose before sipping it and also eat while or before you drink it. Also drink your wine only when your blood-glucose levels are under control and consult a doctor before you incorporate white wine into your diet, recommends the association. The symptoms of hypoglycemia and drunkenness are similar – disorientation, sleepiness and dizziness.
Beneficial Compounds in Wine
The ligands in red wine – mainly ellagic acid and epicatechin gallate, or ECG – have an affinity to your peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ , or PPARγ, which is a key factor in both glucose and lipid metabolism. In fact, the affinity is similar to the type 2 diabetes drug rosiglitazone, according to A. Zoechling, lead author for the “Food and Function” study. That raises the possibility that red wine might someday be used in diabetes prevention and treatment, but more research is needed. Red wines contain a much higher level of ligands than white wines. Though the amount can vary among red wines, many reds contain 1 g per liter of these polyphenols, according to "Wine Spectator" magazine. White wines, on the other hand, have less than .1 g per liter.
Scientists from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna came under fire in November 2010 when they said a small, daily glass of red wine may keep diabetes under control, reports the "Daily Mail" newspaper. Diabetes UK pointed to limited research to back the suggestion, and warns that wine – whether red or white – is high in calories, raising risk for weight gain. The alcohol in wine also may negate the benefits provided by the polyphenols it contains, Dr. Iain Frame, research director at Diabetes UK, tells the Mail’s David Derbyshire in the article, “Glass of Red Wine a Day ‘Treats Diabetes by Helping Body Regulate Blood Sugar Levels.’”
The antioxidant action in red wine also may help if you are diabetic because it may help prevent diabetic complications caused by oxidative stress, notes a 2003 “Current Medical Research and Opinion” scientific review. White wine, however, does not contain equal amounts of these antioxidants. The antioxidant content in one glass of red wine, in fact, is equal to that in 12 glasses of white wine, according to “Nutritional Strategies for the Diabetic and Prediabetic Patient,” by Jeffrey I. Mechanick and Elise M. Brett.