February 18th is National Drink Wine Day! Woohoo for you, unless you gave it up for Lent (Renee) or you’re pregnant (Jacqui). We had just heard of this holiday this year, but apparently it’s a thing. It even has its own website and Facebook page. Although this holiday was probably made up as an excuse to indulge, there are many health benefits that we can celebrate as well.
Wine and Disease. Red wine is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols like resveratrol, which is thought to lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease through its antioxidant properties. It has also been linked to reducing inflammation and blood clotting, but the exact mechanisms are yet to be discovered.These antioxidants are linked to reducing cancer and moderating blood sugar in diabetics, as well. There is also emerging evidence that wine can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and improve mental decline with age.
These are all great things, but it is not recommended to start drinking wine only to reap these benefits. Drinking too much too often can actually weaken the heart. Also, white wine only has a small amount of polyphenols compared to red wine, so drinking white will not have the same effectiveness.
Wine and Anxiety. It’s well-known that alcohol can have a calming effect, however, using it as a relaxing agent can be a double-edged sword. Too much can disturb sleep and leave you feeling emotional, irrational and drunk. A glass of wine with dinner may help relieve the stress of the day, but be careful not to overdo it. Alcohol is a system depressant, which can cause decreased mood, leading to depression. Your best bet to reduce anxiety is to pinpoint what is stressing you out, and deal with the situation. Although this is not always possible, once the stressor is removed, anxiety will diminish.
It’s not all good news…
Sulfites occur naturally in wine, but are also added as a preservative. Sulfites can cause flu-like symptoms like headaches, nausea, upset stomach and dizziness. They can aggravate asthma and even cause anaphylactic reactions. Most of the symptoms mimic a typical alcohol-induced hangover, so you may not even notice the difference. In fact, few people have a sensitivity to sulfites, however, the likelihood of developing a sensitivity increases with age, and in those with asthma. To be honest, wine is really the least of your sulfite worries. Products like dried fruits use sulfites to keep the fruit from browning, and contain higher amounts than wine. To be safe, look for wines that have ‘no sulfites added’ on the label, drink in moderation, and limit your dried fruit consumption.
Here are some fun facts about wine from randomhistory.com
Romans discovered that mixing lead with wine not only helped preserve wine, but also gave it a sweet taste and succulent texture. Chronic lead poisoning has often been cited as one of the causes of the decline of Rome.
In ancient Greece, a dinner host would take the first sip of wine to assure guests the wine was not poisoned, hence the phrase “drinking to one’s health.” “Toasting” started in ancient Rome when the Romans continued the Greek tradition but started dropping a piece of toasted bread into each wine glass to temper undesirable tastes or excessive acidity.
One bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes.
The substance in wine that tingles the gums is tannin (related to the word “tan”), which is derived from the skins, pips, and stalks of grapes. It is usually found only in red wine and is an excellent antioxidant. Visually, it is the sediment found at the bottom of the bottle.
Whatever your reasoning to drink wine on National Drink Wine Day, go for it, it only comes once a year. Just remember to enjoy in moderation to get the most of its health benefits.