Is Red Wine Good Or Bad For You?

Whether you imbibe regularly or just enjoy a drink every now and then you've probably heard of the dangers of alcohol. Too much of it can create problems for many of the body's organs, including the liver, heart, and kidneys. But some say just one alcoholic drink can actually provide health benefits. So what about red wine — is it good or bad for your health?

Red wine is purported to contain some heart-healthy benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. That's because red wine contains antioxidants called polyphenols, and specifically one called resveratrol.

Though studies have been mixed, some research has shown that an occasional glass of red wine could increase levels of HDL cholesterol (that's the good kind) and protect against the bad kind of cholesterol. In doing so, red wine can help protect against heart attacks. Resveratrol might go a step farther and guard the blood vessels that line the heart, along with preventing blood clots. Studies on this are inconclusive, however.

A magic compound?

Studies on resveratrol in mice show that there is a health benefit, but that news comes with caveats, according to Harvard Health Publishing. First of all, there is no evidence that resveratrol supplements have any benefit. And to get the positive, heart-healthy boost of resveratrol from wine, you'd need to drink more than 100 glasses daily.

Another theory holds that perhaps people who drink red wine have lower rates of heart disease simply because they consume a better diet overall. Think about it: you're more likely to have wine with a nice meal, while beer and hard alcohol pair with all kinds of high-fat, high-calorie foods. That could contribute to something called the French paradox, which points out that French people have low rates of heart disease despite consuming a lot of cheese and other rich foods. New studies have shown, however, that moderate amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat do not cause heart disease, as Healthline points out. This is a much more likely explanation than red wine itself preventing heart problems.

So though it may not have all the health benefits it's touted for, if you're a red wine drinker, feel free to partake in moderation. That's one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men, according to Harvard Health.