Wine and your Health

As we start the new year, many of us have made resolutions to live healthier lives. So how does wine fit into that goal? Let me first say, "I am not a doctor, and you should always consult your physician"...there, now we can get down to the fun stuff - making wine part of our daily lives.

Wine is chocked full of healthy compounds. Wine contains tannins, polyphenols, alcohol and (the new buzz word) resveratrol. There is plenty of research that shows one to two glasses of wine a day can actually lower your risk of heart attack, and even raise your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) due to stimulation to the liver. And, that is thought to be a great antioxidant, fighting those nasty free radicals that could be a cause of cancer. Alcohol may actually protect against cardiovascular disease, simply because it thins the blood and may prevent clots.

In the United States, the drinking age is 21, but when you look back to the old world, wine is part of the meal starting at a much younger age. Responsible drinking (and in moderation) is the key. Here in California, you are considered "drunk" when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08% or higher. A persons' BAC is calculated as the amount of ethanol per milliliter of blood. This percentage is affected by an the persons weight, health, gender, and even their food intake while drinking.

In the United States, guidelines for alcohol consumption are based on a standard serving being 14 grams of ethanol alcohol. If you figure that an average bottle of wine (750 ml) is between 9% to 15% alcohol (and rest water), we can figure there are about 54 to 90 grams of ethanol per bottle (or, based on standard serving size, about 4 to 6.5 serving sizes). The recommended guidelines in the United States are 2 servings/day for men, and 1 serving/day for women. Remember that these are guidelines. A larger person may not be affected as much as a smaller person, simply due to the larger amounts of body fluids being able to dilute the affects of alcohol. Also, since alcohol is absorbed through the lining of the stomach and the small intestines, food consumption with your drink can slow down the rate of absorption.

Just remember to drink in moderation. Too much of a "good thing", can have adverse affects. Research has shown that moderate wine consumption can have positive health benefits. Some new research (that is still being evaluated) shows promising signs that moderate consumption may lower the risks of dementia, osteoporosis, and even type II diabetes.

So, here's to your health, and to the New Year. Drink some wine, and make 2011 the year you keep your resolution to be a healthier person.

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