Your red-wine habit also happens to come with some happy health benefits, such as protecting your ticker and even slimming your waistline. Here’s why you should kick back and relax with a glass of vino tonight:
1. Lower cholesterol. High-fiber Tempranillo red grapes, used to make certain red wines, may have a significant effect on cholesterol levels, says a study from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain. Healthy study participants who consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine saw their bad cholesterol (LDL) levels decrease by 9 percent. Participants with high cholesterol experienced a 12 percent drop. Why is this good news? Excess LDL gets deposited in arterial walls and forms plaque, causing arteries to stiffen and blood pressure to rise, which leads to heart attacks.
2. Control blood sugar. The skin of red grapes is a rich source of red wine’s natural compound resveratrol, which may help diabetics regulate their blood sugar, according to research from Nutrition. Study participants who took a 250 mg resveratrol supplement once a day for three months had lower blood glucose levels than those who didn’t take the pill. Researchers believe resveratrol may help stimulate insulin secretion or activate a protein that helps regulate glucose and insulin sensitivity.
3. Fight off a cold. This is particularly good news as cold and flu season starts: A 2010 study found that among 4,000 faculty members at five Spanish universities, those who drank more than 14 weekly glasses of wine for a year were 40 percent less likely to catch a cold. Why? Antioxidants may fight infection and protect cells against the damaging effects of free radicals.
4. Whittle your waistline. Piceatannol, the chemical compound our bodies convert from resveratrol, was shown to prevent the growth of fat cells in lab tests. Researchers say piceatannol binds to the insulin receptors of fat cells, making it impossible for immature fat cells to mature and grow.
5. Protect your heart. On top of lowering bad cholesterol, polyphenols—the antioxidants in red wine—can help keep blood vessels flexible and reduce the risk of unwanted clotting almost as effectively as a daily aspirin. One caution: Chronic heavy drinking damages the heart, so moderation is key.