Health benefits: Women put on less weight if they stick to red wine rather than soft drinks or other beverages
The health benefits of red wine have long been a consolation to those who enjoy an occasional glass or two. But the news has got even better.
A study has shown that moderate women drinkers put on less weight than those who stick to soft drinks – and those who drank red wine put on the least weight. The findings by Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston suggest drinkers turn the calories into heat, not fat.
Here we look at the other surprising ways in which alcohol – when taken in moderation – may benefit your body. Men should not exceed three to four units a day and women should not exceed two to three units a day.
BENEFITS: Fights cancer, raises good cholesterol, boosts brain power, helps insomnia and protects against hearing and tooth decay.
The health benefits of red wine are down to resveratrol, a plant chemical in the skins and pips of grapes. Salicylate, an antioxidant in red wine, can help to prevent deafness by protecting the tiny hairs in the inner ear that are vital for hearing.
It can also sharpen your wits, says Dr Clinton Wright, professor of neurology at Columbia University, New York, who found moderate red wine drinkers score higher in mental agility tests than teetotallers. A team of U.S. researchers discovered that chemicals in the seeds and skins of grapes blocked the ability of corrosive bacteria to bind with tooth enamel, protecting teeth from decay.
Red wine can also help insomnia, according to the University of Milan. Grape skins contain melatonin, a hormone that keeps body clocks in check and induces sleep.
BENEFITS: Contains vitamins and minerals needed to protect the heart and bones, plus fibre.
A pint of ale contains more than a quarter of an adult’s recommended daily dose of vitamin B folate, which stops the build-up of homocysteine, linked to heart attacks.
Beer also contains boron, another trace mineral needed to maintain healthy bones. A pint supplies a tenth of the recommended daily allowance of niacin, which is needed to help release energy from food, as well as 10 per cent of an adult’s daily fibre needs.
A pint a day reduces the risk of kidney stones by up to 40 per cent because beer is low in calcium and high in magnesium – key factors in avoiding stone formation.
Like red wine, one beer a day cuts the risk of heart disease and strokes, thanks to its antioxidants.
But does it give you a beer belly? Martin Bobak, an epidemiologist at University College London, compared 2,000 beer drinkers with non- drinkers. There was little difference in their waist-hip ratios.
BENEFITS: Anti-inflammatory, diuretic.
Gin is a distilled form of pure alcohol with few chemical congeners – or impurities – to give you a hangover.
It is flavoured with juniper, a berry known for its diuretic properties and used in herbal medicine to treat kidney and bladder stones, and bloating.
Juniper has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve arthritis, rheumatism and gout.
BENEFITS: Lowers cholesterol; benefits lungs; anti-inflammatory.
The grape flesh used in white wine contains the chemicals tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, which lower artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.
When drunk moderately, white wine may help keep lungs healthy over a lifetime. Its antioxidants protect against harmful molecules that can damage lung tissues.
White wine also contains caffeic acid, which can help to suppress inflammation. This may help ease pain suffered ! by people with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
BENEFITS: Protects against heart attacks and blood clots.
As a distillation of red wine, brandy contains high concentration of phenolics or antioxidants, which mop up free radicals that damage organs and tissues – 30ml provide the equivalent antioxidant potential as the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
The University of Bordeaux has shown that a regular tot of Armagnac has a similar effect to aspirin because it helps stave off heart attacks and blood clots. It is believed this is due to brandy being stored in oak casks, which are high in anti- oxidant plant compounds that mop up damaging free radicals in the body.
BENEFITS: Helps brain injuries.
Researchers triggered a stroke in two groups of mice. The group which had champagne – which is packed with antioxidants – had more protection against brain cell damage.