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Is Red Wine Good for Fatty Liver?

author image Sharon Perkins
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.
Is Red Wine Good for Fatty Liver?
A seared fish salad and a glass of red wine on a restaurant table. Photo Credit: BrittaKokemor/iStock/Getty Images

Red wine in moderation appears to have cardiovascular benefits. Some of the benefit from red wine comes from resveratrol, an antioxidant. In some studies, resveratrol has shown some benefit in reducing fatty liver, a common condition often related to obesity. Alcohol, including wine, can further damage the liver. Drink red wine to treat fatty liver only if your doctor specifically recommends it. Do not drink red wine at all if you have alcohol abuse issues.

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Fatty Liver Facts

Eating fatty foods doesn't cause fatty liver, but obesity can. In fact, obesity is the most common cause of fatty liver worldwide, affecting 20 percent of Americans, a July 2007 published in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" reports. Alcohol abuse, diabetes, high triglyceride levels also cause fatty liver, as well as some medications and diseases. When a fatty liver becomes inflamed, a condition known as steatohepatitis, cells can be permanently damaged. Avoiding substances that cause fatty liver is one of the most effective treatments for fatty liver. Weight loss is also a key part of treatment.

Possible Resveratrol Benefits

Resveratrol is a plant substance that has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants helps reduce damage to DNA in cells, which could benefit damaged liver cells. Resveratrol has low bioavailability in humans, meaning that it metabolizes and is eliminated quickly from your body after ingestion.While moderate alcohol consumption appears reduce the risk of heart disease, it's not yet clear whether resveratrol is the major causes of the reduction. In a review of studies published in the March 1996 issue of "BMJ," moderate consumption of any type of article had a protective effect, especially if taken with meals.


An animal study published in the October 2008 issue of the "American Journal of Physiology" studied the effects of resveratrol of non-alcoholic fatty liver in rats. Rats who took resveratrol had reduced fat infiltration. From this, researchers concluded that the same amount of resveratrol in red wine might help reduce fatty liver in people. Several caveats apply to this study. The research was done on rats, not people, and pure resveratrol, not red wine, was used to supply the antioxidant.


Alcohol is a known liver toxin. Fatty liver, while not harmful in itself, can progress in some cases to more serious liver damage such as cirrhosis. Women are particularly susceptible to liver damage from alcohol. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describe safe moderate alcohol intake for women as no more than one drink per day, which equals one, not two 5-ounce glasses of red wine. For men, two glasses per day equals moderate intake. Do not drink more than this unless your doctor specifically prescribes it.

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