Health benefits of red wine

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 26th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Humans have consumed wine for thousands of years. Grape cultivation and wine consumption began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt around 4000 BC. And since then wine’s health benefits have been widely touted… from healthier blood vessels to anti-aging effects to stronger bones. In fact, ancient Greek doctors, including Hippocrates, prescribed wine to treat patients.

Now researchers have found that red wine curbs tissue damage caused by periodontal [pear-ee-oh-DON-tull] disease. Also called gum disease, it’s dangerous because destructive oral bacteria break down hard and soft oral tissues, leading to bleeding gums, tooth movement and even permanent tooth loss.

An estimated fifteen percent of adults ages twenty-one to fifty and sixty-five percent of adults over fifty are affected by the disease. But now they have an added reason to drink up: Canadian researchers have discovered red wine contains antioxidants that significantly curb the inflammation periodontal disease causes. That could make them potentially useful in the prevention and treatment of the affliction.

These compounds, called polyphenols [polly-FEE-nallz], are found in red wine, particularly in grape seeds. Polyphenols also have anti-tumor characteristics, and are even believed to help prevent heart disease.

So the next time you open a bottle of red wine, you might want to go ahead and toast to your health. Still, be mindful of how much you drink. A little can go a long way when it comes to wine’s winning properties. As they say, too much of a good thing can be downright bad.