Red wine alters blood lipid levels, which is a fancy way of saying it keeps our blood vessels clean. A decade ago, researchers at the University of California-Davis wondered why the Brie-eating, cream-loving French weren’t keeling over from heart attacks at nearly the rate Americans were. The California scientists discovered that the wine that the French quaffed with dinner cut their total cholesterol and increased their HDL, (the “good” cholesterol).
How? Polyphenols, the chemical substances in the skins of grapes that are found in all kinds of wine (ordinary grape juice too), reduce something known as endothelin-1, a substance that makesarteries become stiff and clogged. But it turns out that wine isn’t the only source of protective polyphenols. Beer and hard liquor are also rich in them. Do they have the same health benefits as wine when consumed in moderation? “The data suggest that, yes, all alcohols are equivalent,” says Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Cancer Resver-atrol, an antioxidant present in the skins of red grapes, helps starve cancer cells of a key protein called NF-kB. Researchers at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center determined in 2004 that cancer cells are “addicted” to NF-kB. Cut off their supply, and the cells shrivel.
Drinking wine in moderation also helps ward off h. pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. In one study, wine cut h. pylori by 11 percent, says a 2002 report in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Staving Off Strokes
Wine helps prevent strokes by keeping our arteries healthy. A studypublished in 1999 in The New EnglandJournal of Medicine found that even very moderate drinking—as little as a glass of wine a week—lowered the risk of the most common strokes (ischemic) by around 20 percent.