National Wine Week - So what are the benefits ?

As we sip away at our glass of wine, we rarely stop to think of its origins. It has had its place in history for thousands of years, with archaeologists believing it dates back to as far as 2000 BC. It was believed to have originally been drunk by the wealthy and not drunk by the lower classes as it was such a luxury.

Gradually, its popularity spread and it became more accessible to the general masses.  Even Hippocrates extolled its healing properties; such as aiding labour, upset stomachs, anti-histamine effects (stopped itching), and easing anxiety.

We associate wine with Rome, as it has featured like that so much in media, however wine was actually adopted by the Romans from Greece. It even found its way into the bible as having health properties when (in his first epistle to Timothy) Paul suggested it could help digestion.

Its sterilising benefits of wine were used during the 1892 cholera epidemic in Hamburg, as it was used in the water to make it safe. Also in countries where safe water was difficult to find, wine (if available) was drunk instead.

Wine - the facts

Women’s absorption of alcohol is quicker than men’s. This is because females generally have a lower body water content and different levels of enzymes, so alcohol reacts differently. Generally, women therefore cannot drink as much!

The National Health Service (NHS) writes:

"Men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day. Women should not regularly drink more than two to three units a day."

One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. A 250ml (large) glass of 12% red wine has about three units of alcohol. A 175ml (medium) glass has about two units.

What does that mean? Well, putting it simply, as a ‘rule of thumb’, a medium glass of 12% alc. red wine daily, is the limit for women a day, as that size glass has approximately two units in it. Men can drink a few tablespoons extra.

Medieval monks believed that wine delayed aging, in modern day science, scientists do too.

Resveratrol, found in nuts, cranberries and the skins of red grapes, is believed to have anti ageing properties, improve circulation, reduce joint pain and lower cholesterol.

Regular consumption of most alcoholic drinks is thought to increase the risk of breast cancer. However, red wine intake has the opposite effect, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found.

Researchers have also suggested that properties in the skins of red grapes could lower oestrogen and therefore lower the risk of breast cancer.

Before you start to drink any alcohol, always drink within your limits, do not drink and drive and, if you have a health condition, seek medical advice before you imbibe. Notice I haven’t mentioned calories, as I feel that will warrant another blog.

It goes without saying, a little of what you fancy does you good (if it’s safe to do so).

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Victoria Shorland

Victoria has been a Nutritionist for ten years, working with SureStart, the Osteoporosis Society, Spire St Saviours and in private practice.… Read more

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