Health Benefits of Wine and Beer

Health Benefits of Wine and BeerThe paradox between the French’s consumption of high fat foods and low rates of heart disease has been attributed to red wine. However, there are certain health benefits to wine and beer.

The Harvard School of Public Health (Is Wine, Fine or Beer Better?) notes that studies have suggested that red wine consumed with a meal offers greater cardiovascular benefits than beer or other spirits, and that conclusion comes from a comparison of instances of coronary heart disease in wine-drinking countries versus beer- or liquor-drinking countries.

Resveratrol, found in red wine, has been thought to be the key to the health benefit of wine; however, in reality, the alcoholic beverage isn’t the driver as much as the alcohol itself. A New England Journal of Medicine study (“Roles of drinking pattern and type of alcohol consumed in coronary heart disease in men”) included over 38,000 men and documented heart disease from 1986 to 1998. The conclusion: “Among men, consumption of alcohol at least three to four days per week was inversely associated with the risk of myocardial infarction. Neither the type of beverage nor the proportion consumed with meals substantially altered this association. Men who increased their alcohol consumption by a moderate amount during follow-up had a decreased risk of myocardial infarction.”

Beer and Wine: Good for the Bones

In addition to providing cardiac benefit, alcohol consumption helps protect bone density as well. Dr. Katherine Tucker, University of Massachusetts Lowell professor of nutritional epidemiology, said, ““Moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart. But it’s also reliably associated with protecting the bones, which start to get more porous as we age. And that’s even less well known. If you drink, one or two drinks a day definitely improves your bones.” (Quoted in The Boston Globe’sThe benefits and health risks of beer and wine.”)

In wine, resveratrol combined with alcohol helps guard against osteoporosis, and in beer, the combination of silicon and alcohol contributes to stronger bones. Darker, earthier beers also tend to contain greater amounts of silicon.

All Things in Moderation

Moderate alcohol consumption is the key. It’s not necessarily what you drink but how you drink that leads to health benefits of wine, beer, or spirits. Moderate consumption with meals seems to lead to the benefits as opposed to drinking greater quantities only once or twice a week. It’s better to drink one glass of wine or mug of beer with dinner three or four times a week than to consume three or four glasses at a single time once a week.

While studies point to the health benefits of wine and beer, alcohol consumption also comes with its risks, with alcoholism and liver damage leading the list. All things in moderation is sage advice.