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When my dad came down to visit me, I overheard him talking to my uncle, who's a doctor about the positive qualities of red wine in the daily diet of a person. I couldn't help but think to myself: "So drinking alcohol is good for you now?" It seems like a double edged sword because it opens up the floodgates that give millions of people actual license to go out and drink now that there's the perfect excuse for it.

By now, most of have hear the saying that red wine is supposed to be really good for you. However, how true is this statement? And why are people saying this? Out of all of the alcoholic beverages of choice, red wine is the most heart-healthy. In fact, some doctors even recommend drinking a glass of red wine to their patients! The reason red wine is so "healthy" is due to the grapes used. You see, the skin and seeds of red grapes contain flavonoids, which is a type of antioxidant. Flavonoids are believed by many to help your heart by thinning your blood (thereby reducing blood clots), reducing LDL (aka: bad) cholesterol and by increasing HDL (aka: good) cholesterol. Also found in red grapes is another antioxidant called resveratrol (found in the skin of the grape).

Many researchers believe that this particular antioxidant can slow tumor growth in some cancers. It is also believed that resveratrol can prevent nerve cell damage and death, which could help with treatments of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. If that wasn't enough good news, red wine may also prevent and/or protect against periodontal disease, which is a disease that affects your teeth and gums. According to researchers at the University of California at Davis, various wines were tested for their flavanoid levels, and it was discovered that the dryer red wines had the highest level of flavonoids while white wines had the least amount. So, what about grape juice? Grape juice has grapes in it too; and it was found that while grape juice can help to prevent blood from clotting, it does not lower LDL levels like Red wine would.

Obviously, there are some risks associated with consuming red wine in excess. For example, just like with any other alcohol, over consumption can lead to health problems such as damage to a person's liver, pancreas or other nerve cells, not to mention the fact that those with certain types of health problems should really avoid consuming alcohol altogether. People with health problems such as: pancreatitis, liver disease, depression and congestive heart failure should not consume alcohol at all in any form. There are also opponents who claim that drinking a small amount of alcohol per day can carry such health risks as stroke, birth defects, driving accidents, cancer, addiction and drug interactions.

If you're planning on drinking, don't drive; and if you're planning on driving, don't drink. Those who are taking prescribed medications that range anywhere from birth control to depression medication need to be extremely careful and check with doctors about the interactions that alcohol consumption would have. There have been many people who have died both intentionally and unintentionally from the deadly combination of drug interactions with alcohol. Just exercise caution.

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Posted in: Health, Wines