How to Tell if Your Wine Habit is Healthy
You’ve seen the research showing that moderate wine consumption can benefit health, but how do we find the balance between moderate and over-consumption?
I like a good glass of red as much as the next person. A warming red wine hot toddy on a chilly evening hits the spot, and because there are so many studies pointing to the benefits of wine it feels like a relatively healthy indulgence. But where do the health risks of drinking start to outweigh the benefits of red wine?
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Cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn recently shared his perspective on wine drinking. He explains that you can think of wine’s benefits on a U-shaped curve. It’s called a Bell Curve, and what it expresses is that benefits increase up to a certain point, then decrease rapidly.
Wine and Health: Deconstructing the Bell Curve
The benefits of wine are different for men and for women, because women metabolize alcohol differently. For women, Kahn says that one drink a day is “moderate,” while men can have two. He also shares some insights on moderate drinking that he gives to his cardiac patients:
- There is human research showing the benefits of wine. In moderation, wine has been shown to increase life expectancy. Alcohol can help raise your body’s levels of good cholesterol. It also reduces inflammation and has a number of other benefits that Kahn outlines in his article.
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- A ”glass of wine” is five ounces. Five ounces is 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Measure out that amount into a wine glass to get a visual idea of how much that is. Those over-sized wine glasses at restaurants hold far more than a single serving of wine.
- The top of the curve is 1-2 drinks for women and 2-4 for men. If you’re looking for health benefits in wine-drinking, you want to hit that sweet spot at the top of the Bell Curve. Once you pass Kahn’s definitions for moderate amounts of wine, the costs start to outweigh the benefits. If you want to play it safe, stick to the low ends of those ranges, and get that beneficial resveratrol elsewhere instead.
- Drinking isn’t for everyone. Of course, if you don’t react well to alcohol or just plain don’t want to drink, don’t. Sure, wine has health benefits, but so do lots of other things.
Do you drink the occasional glass of wine? A daily glass? Let’s talk wine and health in the comments!