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The scientific studies showing the health benefits of wine

Recently a number of articles in the national press have suggested that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that red wine should be axed from the so-called Mediterranean diet. db looks at the scientific evidence for the health benefits of drinking wine.

The relationship between wine and health has been a topic of interest for not just the last few years of tabloid sensationalism, but the debate goes back centuries, with some cultures praising its benefits, and others seeing wine, beer and spirits as a drug that should be heavily controlled, if not complete prohibition.

Despite the current debate about whether wine is good for you or not at moderate levels, there are also recent scientific studies that have provided evidence to support these claims, highlighting the positive effects of wine, particularly red wine, on various aspects of human health.

Here, we look back through the years at the drinks business, and provide a comprehensive overview of the health benefits associated with wine from scientific studies that we have covered in the past several decades.

Cardiovascular benefits

Red wine is frequently associated with cardiovascular health benefits, primarily due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the presence of beneficial compounds such as resveratrol.

A study conducted by Iowa State University found that moderate red wine consumption could reduce visceral fat, a type of fat linked to increased risk of heart disease. The anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol contribute to this reduction, thereby lowering the overall risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Additionally, red wine has been shown to help regulate cholesterol levels. Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology indicated that both red and white wines could lead to significant improvements in cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation alongside regular physical activity​.

This regulation of cholesterol is crucial in preventing heart disease and promoting overall cardiovascular health.

Blood Pressure

Heart failure: man drinks four cans of energy drink a day

Flavonoids, which are abundant in red wine, play a crucial role in reducing blood pressure. According to a study led by Professor Aedin Cassidy at Queen’s University Belfast, consuming three glasses of red wine per week can significantly lower blood pressure.

This effect is attributed to the interaction between flavonoids and the gut microbiome, which enhances the cardioprotective properties of these compounds​.

This study provides concrete evidence linking flavonoid intake to a reduced risk of hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Bone health

While red wine is often highlighted for its health benefits, white wine also offers significant advantages, particularly concerning bone health.

A study focusing on older adults found that those who consumed white wine in moderation had higher bone mineral density compared to those who drank other types of alcohol, including red wine and beer​.

This finding suggests that white wine can play a role in maintaining bone health and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis.

Glucose regulation

The benefits of wine extend to the management of type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrated that moderate consumption of both red and white wines could improve glucose regulation in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The study involved 224 subjects who consumed red wine, white wine, or mineral water with dinner over two years while adhering to a Mediterranean diet.

The results showed no significant difference between red and white wine’s effects on glucose regulation, indicating that both types of wine can be beneficial for diabetic patients​.

Cancer prevention

Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, has been extensively studied for its anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that resveratrol can help destroy abnormal cells that lead to cancer, particularly in the case of bowel cancer.

A study conducted by the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France, found that resveratrol, combined with aspirin, could reduce the survival of tetraploid cells in human bowel cancer tumor cultures. This combination was shown to help destroy cells that cause genetic instability and are linked to cancer development​.

Furthermore, scientists at Dalian Medical University in China suggested that resveratrol could slow cancer growth.

Cognitive health

Dementia Prevention

Moderate wine consumption has also been linked to cognitive health benefits, particularly in preventing dementia. The antioxidants in wine play a significant role in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, which are key factors in the development of cognitive decline.

Studies have shown that these antioxidants can help maintain brain health and prevent the onset of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases​.

General longevity

Researchers have suggested that pharmaceutical compounds containing resveratrol could one day be used to treat and prevent diseases related to aging, offering a promising avenue for enhancing longevity​​.

Social drinking of wine in moderation has also been shown to be critical to the success of the world’s Blue Zones, where the average life expectancy is at its highest.

Writing in GQ about the phenomena, Dr Kien Vuu, the author of Thrive State, said that it wasn’t necessarily due to the health benefits of wine, but was due to the socialisation that comes “hand-in-hand with imbibing now and then”.

He argued that we should say ‘Yes to Happy Hour’, and a glass of wine was critical to health when consumed in a social setting, as it was in the so-called Blue Zones, which comprises of the Barbagia region of Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and Icaria in Greece.

These areas are the places in the world which have the highest life expectancy with the most centenarians, and numerous books and studies have been written about the ‘zones’ in an attempt for their health secrets to be replicated elsewhere.

Vuu said: “In longevity cultures, moderate alcohol consumption often occurs in a social context, emphasising the role of community and celebration.”


Wine, when consumed in moderation, offers a range of health benefits, from improving cardiovascular health and bone density to managing diabetes and even preventing cancer. The antioxidants and flavonoids present in wine, particularly resveratrol, play a crucial role in these health benefits.

However, it is essential to emphasise that moderation is key to avoiding the negative health impacts associated with excessive alcohol consumption, which is carcinogenic in larger quantities.

As research continues to uncover the various health benefits of wine, it remains true that wine can be a valuable component of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

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