Many studies have been conducted on alcohol and its effect on humans. In the last decade, the studies focussed on wine and health.
Three Factors distinguish wine drinkers as particularly healthy as compared to other alcohol consumers:
- Moderate and responsible lifestyle traits (most wine drinkers are white collar and higher educated)
- Mealtime consumption of wine
- Wine’s phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties
J-Curve of moderate consumption
Some studies have reported a “J-shaped” relationship between alcohol consumption and the development of coronary heart disease (CHD). The “U-shaped” curve describes the fact that consumers in the 2-3 drink range have the lowest rates of CHD, with abstainers and excessive users having higher rates. This effect has been referred to by some scientists as the “cardio-protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption.” Note: the operative word is MODERATE.
The French Paradox
Another study highlighted the ‘French paradox’. It was noted that although the French don’t eat a particularly healthy diet, they show much reduced rates of coronary heart disease when compared with northern European nations such as the UK and Germany. An explanation has been that the relatively high consumption of alcohol, and in particular wine, by the French, which in some way acts to protect them from heart disease. This is just a correlation, for which there is no direct proof, but it does fit well with the results from the large-scale population studies on drinking and mortality.
Why all the fuss about red wine?
Further research implied that it is the polyphenols that are the active ingredient in the health effects. Red wine appears to have the highest polyphenols. Indeed, when the King of Thailand shared with the public that his doctor recommended drinking a glass of red wine everyday for health reasons, the red wine consumption in Thailand rose astronomically.