Wine drinkers healthier, but should the credit go to the wine or them?

by Terry B on June 2, 2010

In a trio of studies on wine and health, one questions whether it’s the wine or lifestyle that makes drinkers healthier; the other two show that it’s indeed the wine (or at least the grapes) that may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


As a fan of wine, shall we say, I’m always happy to pass along good news about wine and health. Well, Wine Spectator’s website recently reported on three studies that did my heart good. The first was “a new French study, scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that finds that people who drink moderate amounts of wine are healthier in several key categories than nondrinkers.” And this being a French study, “moderate” to them meant drinking a half bottle of wine a day.

For the study, a team of researchers questioned nearly 150,000 Parisians about their drinking habits and examined their health. They found that women who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol had “lower body-mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure and blood lipids, including bad cholesterol.” Men who drank in moderation had “lower body-mass index, heart rate, blood pressure and better blood sugar levels, plus lower stress and depression scores.”

But rather than credit wine alone for all this good health, the study’s authors also stated that moderate drinkers tend to have healthier diets, exercise more and balance work and leisure better. And moderate consumption is also an indicator of optimal social status. Whatever the final outcome, if you enjoy wine on a regular basis, it sounds like you’re doing all right. Read the complete Wine Spectator report here.

Wine and reduced type 2 diabetes risk

In this case, it is the wine (or at least the grape) that does the job. Two separate studies, one from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the other from University of Michigan, have connected moderate wine consumption with reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Analyzing 10 years of health, lifestyle and drinking data for more than 35,000 men and women, the Dutch study concluded that “the lower rate of the disease among drinkers cannot be explained by a healthier lifestyle alone. Alcohol, in some way, contributed directly to a lower incidence of the disease—drinkers had a roughly 40 percent lower risk compared to abstainers.”

And while this study doesn’t offer any explanations as to why wine consumption may lower diabetes risk, the University of Michigan study does. Eating grapes, it seems, slows the development of hypertension and insulin resistance, both precursors to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For their study, the Michigan team fed rats powder made from table grapes; the rats exhibited better blood sugar levels and improved glucose tolerance.

The effect is thought to be “due to phytochemicals, which occur naturally in grapes and wine and include tannins, anthocyanins and resveratrol.” As appealing as grape powder sounds, I think I’ll stick with my wine-drinking regimen. Read the complete Wine Spectator report here.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

The French June 2, 2010 at 6:02 am

Yay! I’m doing something right! Guess I’ll have another glass…thanks:)

Helmut June 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

Good news for moderate drinkers! Sadly my consumption is quite immoderate!

Terry B June 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

You’re welcome, the French! When I finished writing this post last night, I went straight to drinking in moderation. Didn’t do quite a half bottle—I need to get back into training.

Hi, Helmut! Maybe you should put that Oscar Wilde quote about moderation wherever you keep your wine.

Mellen June 3, 2010 at 3:02 am

Yeah!! (hic)

Terry B June 3, 2010 at 3:26 am

Hi, Mellen! And hi to Steve. Marion and I are sitting here getting healthier as I type this. (also hic)

Chef Dad June 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Now, I believe living well and living healthy go hand in hand. That said, how can one determine that living a healthy lifestyle cannot alone explain health, as the Dutch study does?

Of course, can’t be too careful (hic, as well).

Terry B June 9, 2010 at 1:47 am

A good question, Chef Dad. There are also the issues of heredity, your parents’ lifestyles (another recent study shows that kids can pay for their parents’ hard living, even if it happened before they were born), socioeconomic status (which can affect access to good food, good health care and more)… and the ever popular stepping in front of a bus. All that said, not taking care of oneself in light of increasing evidence of its obvious benefits is just plain dumb.

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