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Is Drinking Grape Juice the Same as Drinking Red Wine?
Is there a substitute for red wine? Perhaps grape juice made from grapes rather than concentrate? I do not drink alcohol at all and would not do so even for the benefits of red wine.

Does having a glass of wine every night affect weight loss?
Even though that glass of wine has about 150 calories, those who drink alcohol on a regular basis have a lower risk of being obese. In a study published in 2005, Drs. Ahmed and Rohrer looked at over 8,000 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 46% of the respondents were classified as "current drinkers."

Mediterranean Diet: Alcohol
I get questions from patients almost every day about whether it's safe or healthy for them drink alcohol. It goes without saying that drinking too much alcohol is bad for you. Even so, the best research we have now shows that those drinking between 2 and 3 drinks per day for men or 1 to 2 per day for women live longer and live healthier.


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Sparkling Wines are (Also) Good for You

Moderate alcohol consumption is a part of the Mediterranean Diet, and several studies I've discussed in the past have linked alcohol specifically with a reduced risk of heart disease. We do know that artherosclerosis is actually a chronic, low-grade inflammation of the wall of the artery, and other studies suggest that alcohol may have an antiinflammatory effect, leading to that reduction in risk. Just what substance in alcohol has that effect is still uncertain. Is it the ethanol in the drink or the non-alcoholic compounds, mainly polyphenols, that make the difference?

Researchers in Spain recruited 20 healthy men between the ages of 25 and 50 to participate in a crossover study comparing cava (a sparkling wine containing a medium level of polyphenols) to gin (practically no polyphenols) (J Nutr 2007;137(10):2279-2284). Each man consumed a specified amount of wine daily for a month, then switched to gin for a month, with a two-week period of abstaining from alcohol before and after each month of alcohol consumption. The subjects were directed to refrain from foods with high levels of polyphenols (such as onions, virgin olive oil, and teas) but were given an otherwise Mediterranean-style diet designed to maintain their weight throughout the study.

The scientists performed blood tests on the subjects at the beginning and end of each period of alcohol consumption and found that although both gin and sparkling wine helped reduce the biomarkers of inflammation that indicate artherosclerosis, the effects of cava consumption were significantly greater than those seen for gin.

What this means for you

'Tis the season for celebrations. The healthier choice from the bar will be the wine, whether it's sparkling or still, instead of liquor, but it's clear alcohol is definitely good for you. Just don't drink a lot all at once - and have a designated driver!

First posted: November 21, 2007