Antioxidants in Wine: What You Need to Know

Antioxidants are important for the health of your body. Wine is rich in antioxidants, particularly resveratrol, which has been shown to have many benefits on human health. Learn more about the benefits of antioxidants and the types of antioxidants you may find in your favorite wines below!

Is Red Wine Actually Healthy?

Many people wonder if drinking red wine is actually as healthy as some say. The truth is, red wine is considered a heart-healthy drink, as the alcohol and antioxidants may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks. Although red wine has more antioxidants than white, both types of wine do have beneficial antioxidants.

According to the Mayo Clinic, part of the benefit of drinking red wine and heart health is likely due to the antixoidants in red wine which increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (otherwise known as the “good” cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.

What Are Antioxidants?

To put it simply, antioxidants are molecules produced inside and outside of our bodies that prevent or slow damage to our cells. Cell damage ultimately leads to accelerated aging and disease. As a result, antioxidants are what help promote long-term health.

Oxidative stress occurs when there are fewer antioxidants in the body than reactive oxygen species (ROS – basically, imbalanced molecules and free radicals that are derived from molecular oxygen). Our bodies and the environment generate ROS, it’s impossible to avoid them. Very basically, Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress, which is implicated in many life-threatening conditions:

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Brain function decline

Thankfully, we can assist our bodies in this struggle by supplementing the antioxidants they naturally produce with other sources like red and white wine.

Types of Antioxidants Found in Wine

Red Wine

Resveratrol – A polyphenol antioxidant found in red grape skin, resveratrol has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Wine contains higher levels compared to other foods and beverages because the wine is fermented with grape skins longer which allows more time for the antioxidants to develop. Studies show that resveratrol may help produce “good” cholesterol (HDL), reduce production of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and prevent blood clots.

Quercetin – A type of tannin, quercetin is known for its anti-allergic properties. It is also known to improve immune function.

Tannins – You might remember our blog post, “What Are Tannins?” Tannins may prevent microbial infections and protect DNA.

Catechin / Epicatechin – In studies, catechin and epicatechin lowered total cholesterol and increased “good” cholesterol (HDL).

Proanthocyanidin – Another type of tannin, proanthocyanidin, may improve joint flexibility, improve blood circulation, prevent bacterial and viral infections, and also combat allergies.

White Wine

Glutathione – Glutathione is capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals.

Caffeic Acid – This phenolic acid and its derivatives have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties.

We’re Still Learning

The link between antioxidants in wine and improved heart health are still being studied. We still don’t know if the alcoholic content of wine negates its antioxidant benefits. Therefore, it can’t be said conclusively that wine is a reasonable lifestyle addition.

Instead, if you choose to drink wine, remember the most important benefit it brings us is enjoyment and community. After all, wine is a pleasure and far more than just science and health!

Drink Responsibly

Doctors don’t recommend that you start drinking alcohol for heart benefits, especially if you have a family history of alcohol addiction. But if you already enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, drinking it in moderation appears to help your heart.

Despite the fact that wine possesses antioxidants, it is still an alcoholic beverage and should be consumed in moderation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends no more than one drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.