red wine

Do you love red wine? In terms of healthy living, red wine has gained a lot of attention as a helpful addition to the diet. Typically, it’s thought that a glass of red wine with dinner will have positive effects for heart health. There’s some truth to this. Lately, however, there’s been some stir on the internet about the extent of the health benefits provided by red wine. Rumor has it that a glass of red wine could potentially take the place of an hour’s worth of gym time. It is time to rejoice, right? Well, no, not quite yet.

What is it about red wine that makes it so magical? The key component that has folks advocating for red wine is a substance known as resveratrol. It is a compound that is similar to one produced by the body in relation to exercise. When you take those two ideas into account together, it becomes quite easy to see how the thought of red wine as a substitute for exercise comes into play. Now, it is true that resveratrol does provide some benefit for the human body, but the truth is a little bit more nuanced than that.

Resveratrol is beneficial to the body in the sense that it can help the cells of the body protect themselves. Specifically, it is an antioxidant, which means it protects the cells from the effects of entropy, exposure, wear and tear. The fact that it is so good at this defense is likely why it is found in abundance in the skin of certain nuts and berries. These include blueberries, peanuts, and red grapes. In nature, resveratrol content serves to protect the fruit from fungal infections, as well as damage from the sun. Red wine has resveratrol because red grapes do.

red wine

In the case of animal life (including humans), resveratrol can help to protect the cells and the body’s DNA from free radical damage, and other sources of harm. What we know as ‘old age’ is really a number of conditions, often chronic illnesses, that crop up later in life as the body’s defenses grow weaker, and our cells lose strength. Antioxidants and compounds like resveratrol can help to slow this process, giving one a longer, healthier life, and decreasing the odds of falling victim to a chronic or lifelong illness, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other damaging, life-altering disorders.

So where does the workout ‘replacement’ part come in? For starters, there’s a reason working out is so good for you. It releases chemicals that strengthen your body and improve your metabolism, delaying the breakdown of cells and slowing the aging process. Additionally, it can limit the building of fat, making it that much easier to lose weight, instead of packing on the pounds. This is due largely in part to the compound piceatannol, created by resveratrol, which hampers fat cell growth. This all sounds like great news. With all of its health benefits, is resveratrol an exercise replacement?

While resveratrol is indeed a powerful substance, the levels of it found that are in red wine are simply not high enough for it to serve as a viable replacement for exercise. The quantities of resveratrol one would need to have an effect would lead to alcohol poisoning before fitness. What does this mean? Don’t go canceling that gym membership just yet- but there’s also no reason to be bummed. While it’s true nothing takes the place of exercise, red wine still does offer some health benefits partially for the resveratrol, and partially for the alcohol content.

Red Wine Lowers Cholesterol

cholesterol

In moderation, red wine, as well as alcohol in other forms, can raise the levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the good kind of cholesterol. At the same time, it is thought that it can help to prevent damage to the body’s arteries that would otherwise be caused by heightened levels of LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol can lead to a lowering of blood pressure and general heart health, while LDL can cause the opposite effect. Ultimately it’s important to have as much HDL cholesterol as you can because it removes harmful cholesterol from your body’s systems. Red wine can help.

Related: 20 Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol

Red Wine Prevents Blood Clots

blood clots

Along with the other heart-healthy benefits red wine provides, it can also contribute to fewer blood clots. This is because, in moderation, alcohol can help to prevent blood clots from forming; on the surface of the skin, blood clots are great for stopping injuries from bleeding. Inside the circulatory system, blood clots are deadly.  Reducing the likelihood of a blockage reduces the chance of heart trouble. However, it is important to keep in mind that when taken in excess, alcohol can also have the opposite effect, increasing blood pressure, and with it, the odds of having heart-related troubles.

Red Wine Helps Blood Vessels

blood vessels

The antioxidants found in red wine, known as polyphenols, are also responsible in part for the health of the body’s blood vessels. Specifically, they ensure the blood vessels are flexible. Flexible blood vessels are less likely to restrict or resist the flow of blood, which means the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body. This leads to a more healthy level of blood pressure due to lack of strain. Combined with a decreased likelihood of clots, this flexibility in the blood vessels makes for significant heart health; as long as drinking is moderated.

Related: 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

So, red wine, though quite delicious, and (arguably) nutritious, will not be serving as a replacement to exercise any time soon; the resveratrol content simply isn’t high enough compared to the alcohol to safely grant us the levels we require to benefit fully. Red wine still does have a special place at the dinner table; however, as a glass (for ladies) or two (for gentlemen) daily is associated with the various health benefits mentioned above. Otherwise, the best thing you can do to lose weight and stay healthy is to eat a balanced diet and remain physically active.

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