The question about how the French eat a high fat diet, smoke and totally shy away from active exercise, yet they havehalf the rate of heart disease (143 vs. 315 per 100,000 middle-aged men) and live 2.5 years longer than anyone else in the world.
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French researcher Dr. Serge Renaud’s studiesconcluded this was primarily because the French drank bucket-fulls of red wine–at the time 16 gallons per person per year vs. 2 gallons per person per year in America.
25 years later, practically every science lab across the world has not only endorsed the theory but actually taken it further, crediting red wine with everything from weight loss and protection against cancerto lowering the risk for diabetes and helping manage depression.
A sampler, if you may.
1. In 2015,researchers at the Washington State University, foundthatresveratrol – a key antioxidant found in red wine – helps convert ‘white fat’ into ‘beige fat’. Beige fatreduces weight gain by actively burning calories.
2. TheBrigham and Women’s Hospitaland theHarvard School of Public Healthconcluded a 13-year obesity study of 19,220 middle aged women in 2010. The result? Women who drank two glasses of red wine daily were 70% less likely to gain weight.
3. According toajoint studybetween Harvard School of Public Health in the US,the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israeland Leipzig University, Germany,red wine increases the balance of HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol), while boosting glucose metabolism to curb diabetes.
4. AtBoston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, scientists concluded that red wine creates thermogenesis, which raises body temperature by burning more calories.
5. At theUniversity of Alberta, Canada, it was found that the weight reducing benefits of red wine are similar to that of exercise (this one’s my favourite study!).
6. ANorwegian studyrevealed that one glass of red wine a day significantlyincreases levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin.
7. AtPurdue University, it was discovered that red wine contains piceatannol, which actually blocks the growth of fat cells. It also helpsfight cancer, heart diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.
8. In 2012,a team of scientists from Arizona State University, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Harvard Medical Schoolfound that bumblebees who were given resvesterol late at night, ate less.
9. Wondering if virgin grape juice has the same benefits? AGerman studyproved that wine drinkers lose more weight than grape juice drinkers.
10. According to theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, red wine increases levels of good bacteria in the digestive tract.
And there are the other benefits of red wine, likepreventing gastric infections, reducing the risk ofovarian cancer, preventingheart disease, strokes and other cognitive disorders(think dementia and Alzheimer’s), cutting the risk ofdepressionand – in the strangest of turnarounds –actuallydecreasingthe prevalence ofNon-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). But that’s a whole new story for another day.
While bothred and white winesare made from grapes, red wine is made from the whole grape, including the skin and seeds. The skin and seeds are what add powerful antioxidants likeresveratrols, polyphenols, procyanidinandflavonoids, which give red wine most of itsweight loss and anti-ageing benefits.
Red wine also has less natural sugars, while having more iron, potassium, magnesium and bone-friendly phosphorous.
But white wines are much less likely to triggerheadaches, especially migraines, due to lower concentrations ofhistamines. And the paler varietal is also less likely to give you a hangover, as itlacks congeners –chemicals produced during fermentation.And what about the calories?
Yes, red wine – like everything else that’s edible on Planet Earth – comes with it’s own set of calories. Specifically, about 125 to a glass.
These are however, negated by its low GI (Glycemic Index). GI measureshow much glucose different foods produce in the bloodstream. Foods with a high GI score, likebread and cakes, produce large amounts of glucose, which is ultimately stored as fat. However, some high calorie foods such as nuts produce little glucose,explaining why they don’t make you put on weight. Red wine scores very low on theGlycemic Index (less than 15), which is why it doesn’t pile on the pounds.
And then there’s the research that a glass of red wine suppresses cravings for unhealthy snacks, like chocolate, biscuits and sweets, making you feel sated without going on a late night junk food binge.As always, the trick lies in moderation. Bingeing on the red wine will pile on more calories than can be outweighed by its benefits.Does the variety of red winematter?
The short answer is: Yes. Not all red wines are created equal. They are dependent on the grape varietal, fermentation process and age.
Grenache:The Grenache grape, grown inSardinia, Spain and southern France,is known for producing some of the greatest amounts of resveratrol of any varietal.
Muscadine (or Scuppernong):A wine grape native to southeastern US, Muscadine is extremely high inellagic acid, which boosts weight loss. The levels of ellagic acid are boosted witheach year of oak raging, so read the label. And incidentally,there are only about 5000 acres of Muscadine grapes in the world, most of which are concentrated in Georgia.
Pinot Noir:Pinot Noirs grown in cool, rainy climates have among the highest concentrations of resvesterol among any red wines in the world. Regions to look for includethe Burgundy region of France,the Marlborough region of New Zealand andWillamette Valley in Oregon.
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Barbera:Originally of Italianoriginal but now alsowidely produced in California, Barbera winescontains very high levels of resveratrol.