What is the 'Healthiest' Type of Alcohol? (Part I)

Red wine has been heralded for decades for its myriad of health benefits. The research shows it can be beneficial for supporting better brain function, cardiovascular health, inflammation control, blood sugar balance, and cancer protection. Not bad for a little grape!

What gives red wine its health promoting properties? A group of compounds called polyphenols, most notable resveratrol and anthocyanin, which are found in the dark red skins of the berries.  

Most people know that red wine can be health promoting, but is there a type of red wine that is BEST the healthiest choice? Can you get more health boosting bang for your buck with specific varieties of grapes?

Absolutely. There are a couple of factors to consider.

The red wine with the highest amount of resveratrol is your best bet for packing the biggest antioxidant punch. What grape has the most resveratrol? That’s easy… Pinot Noir is head and shoulders above the rest. They have consistently shown the greatest concentrations of resveratrol compared to other grape varieties, regardless of where they come from. Pair a nice Pinot Noir with your weekend dinner and you can reap the health benefits.

What if you you’re not a fan of the lighter bodied Pinots?

It’s not just resveratrol that makes red wines beneficial for overall health. Another polyphenol compound – anthocyanin - gives wine its deep red color. The darker and more full-bodied the red wine, the greater the content of anthocyanin.

What type of grapes have the most anthocyanin?

Experts found that Cabernet varieties have the greatest concentrations of health promoting anthocyanin, so if Pinot Noir’s are too light for you, try pairing a Cabernet Sauvignon to boost your intake of these health promoting polyphenols.

Does this mean if you don’t drink alcohol, you should start?

Not exactly, you can also obtain these healthy polyphenols from eating grapes and other fruits and veggies with darker skins. However, some of my clients rest easier at night knowing that studies show that those who abstain from alcohol completely do not live any longer than those who drink in moderation. (phew!)

Remember, always consume alcohol in moderation… one to two drinks for women and one to three drinks for men per day. Also, be sure to drink water along side to help avoid dehydration. 

Enjoy your health boosting Pinot Noir’s and Cabernet Sauvignon’s this fall… for the great taste and the health benefits!

Cheers, Santé, Salud!

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS