This article looks at the facts, with potential health and nutrition benefits gained from drinking red and white wine. You can also find information on the various amounts of vitamins, minerals, level of alcohol and calories found in a glass or bottle of red and white wine.
While I do not think most people drink wine for its potential healthy benefits, it’s interesting to look at what is inside a glass of wine, along with its caloric content. Aside from pure, hedonistic pleasure, red wine is often mentioned as offering potential healthy benefits. Antioxidants, resveratrol, flavonoids and polyphenols are the most often cited compounds found in wine that researchers like to point out as potentially being healthy chemicals found in wine.
Vitamins and minerals found in wine: Wine does not contain much in the way of vitamins. Each glass of red wine gives on average the following of your daily, nutritional needs: 1% Vitamin K, 1% Thiamin, 2% Niacin, 3% Riboflavin and 4% Vitamin K. Trace amounts of minerals are also found in wine. Each glass of wine gives close to the following percentages of your daily adult requirement of minerals: 1% Calcium, 1% Copper, 1% Zinc, 3% Phosphorus, 4% Iron, 4% Magnesium, 5% Potassium and 10% Manganese.
The statistics are similar, but different for white wine. White wine is lower in carbohydrates, with only 2.6 carbohydrates on average per serving. White wine provides of your daily nutritional needs 3% magnesium, 3% Vitamin B6, 3% Vitamin B2 and 3% Niacin, 1% Riboflavin along with trace elements of Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus and Zinc.
Red Wine is also a source of Antioxidants, Flavonoids, Polyphenols and Resveratrol.
Antioxidants can help prevent cancer, heart disease and assist in lowering cholesterol due to the fact that red wine raises the levels of HDL, or good cholesterol which helps protect your arteries.
Flavonoids, also known as bioflavonoids, are a natural chemical found in plants. Due to the fermentation process, select enzymes are created that help remove some carcinogens and possibly help inhibit the growth of tumors. In turn this helps you to produce more good cholesterol. Resveratrol is said to help in the prevention of damage to your blood vessels while reducing bad cholesterol and assisting to help prevent blood clots.
Polyphenols helps coat and protect the important lining of the blood vessels in your heart. Is all this research into the French Paradox, where people drink wine seeking its health benefits a good thing? The French paradox is based on the comparatively lower levels heart disease encountered in France, even though they enjoy high levels of saturated fats in their typical French diet. The thought is, it’s due to drinking red wine with meals. It would appear that red wine offers more potential health benefits, due to its naturally higher levels of polyphenols, resveratrol and antioxidants. Those compounds are found in the grape skins, which are more important to the production of red wine, than white wine.
Resveratrol, the healthy benefit from red wine: Resveratrol helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces “bad” cholesterol and prevents blood clots. It’s even thought that resveratrol might possibly reduce inflammation and blood clotting as well as provide benefits against type-2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. In the most recent tests, new evidence was found suggesting that resveratrol inhibits enzymes that degrade and break down cells. Resveratrol is said to inhibit select protein’s, (phosphodiesterases) or (PDEs). Those PDE’s assist in the regulation of cell energy that came from its ability to activate a protein called sirtuin 1. The effects in women and the consumption of wine get a shot in the arm in 2014 when the French Institute of Health and Medical Research discovered that wine can help prevent type 2 diabetes in overweight women, provided they begin drinking wine earlier in life and continued throughout their life. The study found that the daily intake of 0.5 to 1 glass of wine reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In heavier women, with a body mass index of 25 or more, the intake of 2 or more glasses of wine per day also showed a decrease in risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), headed by Dr. Jay Chung, found that resveratrol acts not just as an anti-inflammatory substance, but also as a genetic manipulator—all to the benefit of the lab rodents—through both direct and indirect chemical pathways. In the Chung study, researchers discovered that resveratrol blocks the action of a muscle enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), which causes cell degradation. Resveratrol’s ability to inhibit PDE4 could be responsible for the anti-inflammatory observations in the mice. The jury is still out as more study is needed, although the results look promising.
Resveratrol has also been linked to lower levels of fat intake, according to some researchers. But because Resveratrol is metabolized rapidly into the body, the benefit, if any when it comes to help with fat intake. However, in March, 2012, a study published by the Journal of Biological Chemistry discussed the polyphenol Piceatanno, which is related to Resveratrol. Piceatannol, a polyphenol found in the skins of grapes and red wine seems to help block the formation of fat cells in laboratory tests. While Piceatannol and Resveratrol share commonalities, Piceatannol contains additional oxygen and hydrogen molecules making it more difficult for the body to digest, which could help reduce fat intake.
In 2012, researchers agreed about the possibility that resveratrol could lessen the risk of falls and aid in balance in senior citizens. However, the level of resveratrol required to help with this issue would require the consumption of close to 100 bottles of red wine a day per person.
In 2013, multiple studies on the potential benefits of resveratrol took place. In one clinical trial, researchers posited that the combination of resveratrol and aspirin could help with the elimination of tetraploid cancer cell precursors. In a separate study, researchers concluded that it’s possible to obtain a boost to your immune system and counteract the unhealthy effects of a high fat diet from resveratrol.
Red wine and arthritis: Red wine may also help lower the risk of the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in some people who are long term, wine drinkers. A recent Swedish study reported on in 2012 found that properties in red wine can act against the development of rheumatoid arthritis by regulating autoimmune responses. This lessens the creation of chemicals that cause the type of inflammation found in rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers believe alcohol helps reduce the properties and actions of cytokines, proteins used in intercelieve ellular communication. However, the researchers added the same benefits were probably incurred from any type of long term, moderate alcoholic consumption.
The amount of healthy compounds found in red wine actually varies depending on the grape varietal, the region or appellation, the vintage and even the terroir. In fact, studies have shown the type of vessel used to age the wine can have an effect. Wines aged in oak seem to have more antioxidants than you encounter in unoaked wine.
Women and health benefits from red wine: Red wine could also offer unique, health benefits for women. In a study conducted by Cedar Sinai Medical Center, located in Los Angeles, California, the skins and seeds of red grapes used to produce red wine, possessed chemical properties that were thought to decrease estrogen levels in females. Estrogen is a hormone that can induce cancerous cell growth in some pre-menopausal women. The benefits were seen in females who consumed eight ounces of red wine per day over a thirty day period.
While some studies have offered proof for these potential health benefits gained from drinking wine, the jury is still out due to an incident that took place early in 2012.
In January, 2012, it was discovered that one of the most widely quoted scientists on the subject, Dipak Das, from the University of Connecticut, was accused of falsifying data. At the of the discovery, it was not known how much of the data was false, or if that would lead other researchers to publish different conclusions. However, most people are not drinking wine for the potential health benefits. They are drinking it for pleasure. This is a good thing.
While the effects of wine can increase with additional consumption, research has shown that when it comes to health benefits, more is not merrier. The ability of your body to use the antioxidants reaches a plateau after two glasses of wine.
Red Wine Headaches Many casual and daily wine drinkers have from time to time suffered from red wine headaches. While most consumers believe this is caused by an allergic reaction to sulfites in wine, that is not the case. Reactions to the Histamines found in wine have been proven to be the cause of the problem. For more details on red wine headaches, or RWH, please read: Red Wine Headaches Cause and Cure
Level of alcohol in red wine: While there are some probable healthy reasons to enjoy wine, wine has calories and alcohol. Alcohol is perhaps the key component in a wine, without it, we would be drinking juice. The percentage of alcohol in red wine varies quite a bit. For dry red wine, the alcoholic content can range from 12% alcohol up to 16% or even higher in some regions! Today the average is closer to 13% For fortified red wines, (Fortified wines are wines that have been blended with spirits) for example; Port, Sherry and Madeira, the alcoholic content ranges from an average of 18% to 20%.
Percentage of alcohol in white wine:For dry white wines, the level of alcohol is amazingly diverse, depending on the grape varietal and region where the wine was produced. For dry white wines produced from grapes like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, the percentage of alcohol usually ranges from 13% to 15%. For dry wines made from Riesling, the level of alcohol is among the lowest at close to 8% to 9%. For Champagne, the amount of alcohol ranges from 12% to 14%. For sweet, white wines, the level of alcohol differs considerably, depending on the grape and where the wine was produced ranging from 12.5% to 14%. However, some sweet wines are considerably lower, for example, Essencia from Tokaji, which has most of the alcohol fermented out. In that case, the wine will be lower in alcohol, but much higher in calories.
All wine labels are required to state the level of alcohol. But they are not required to be accurate. Depending on the labeling law of the country, the information on the label can vary by an average of 1.5%. For current vintages, as an average, levels of alcohol stated are more often apt to be higher than what is listed on the label for tax purposes.
Sugar content in wine: While wine is packed with all the good things we mentioned, the truth is, wine is mostly water. Perhaps 1.5% of wine comes from solid materials. The remainder consists of alcohol, carbohydrates and water. With that in mind, how many calories does the average drinker ingest when enjoying wine? The amount of calories found in wine varies, depending on the type of wine. Sweet and fortified wines contain much more calories than red or white wine. Dry red and white wines on average include less than 3 grams of residual sugar per liter. Sweet or fortified wines vary widely, depending on their level of sweetness. On average they offer from anywhere between 20 grams per to liter up to 150 grams per liter of residual sugar. With some ice wines or late harvest wines, especially the Trockenbeerenauslese from Germany, (also known as TBA), those wines can have up to 300 grams per liter! To help keep things in perspective, pure maple syrup averages 700 grams per liter. Higher alcohol wines deliver more calories. Alcohol is higher in calories than sugar. What does this mean for the drinker?
Calories in wine: An average glass of wine is close to 6 ounces. This means each glass of dry wine, depending on the degree of alcohol will vary from 100 calories up to 175 calories. The higher end of the spectrum is reserved for very high alcohol wines found in Australia, California or other warm climate terroirs. The sweet, white Bordeaux wines from Sauternes average 200 or more calories per glass. However, most people are not drinking a 6 ounce glass of sweet wine, unless it’s Chateau d’Yquem! Fortified wines like Port are often over 300 calories per 6 ounce glass. But Port drinkers can take solace in the fact most pours run closer to 2 ounces. Champagne, which has both added sugar and alcohol, ranges 125 to 200 calories per glass.
Breaking down rough averages of calorie counts per each, 6 ounce glass of wine, white wines, with low levels of alcohol are the lightest. Generally speaking, wines like Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Muscato can range from 100 calories to 140 calories. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne, produced from higher levels of alcohol, with higher sugar levels come in at between 125 calories up to 160 calories. Champagne, depending on the level of dosage, or sugar comes in at an average of 140 calories per glass. For red wines, they are generally speaking, more alcoholic and sweeter than white wines. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Zinfandel and Sangiovese range from 125 calories up to 175 calories, depending on the level of ripeness and alcohol in the wine. Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, due to their lack of ripeness and lower sugar levels are closer to the bottom of the calorie count meter.
We’re all trying to cut calories. I do not know about you, but I’m finding other ways to remove excess calories from my diet aside from skipping wine. Wine is too much fun to drink and share.