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Red wine is not a health food

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released the results of a formal study regarding the impact of consuming red wine on overall health on May 12, 2014. The study Resveratrol Levels and All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Adults can be summarized as Red Wine is not a Health Food.

It may taste good, but it isn't a health food
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The study was done in an Italian community that followed the health of individuals and their level of consumption of red wine. The objective of the study was to determine whether the amount of resveratrol consumed by drinking red wine helped people live longer. The secondary objectives were to see the impact of this level of resveratrol on inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This is another case where the clinical results of testing done on lower animals do not necessarily duplicate when applied to humans. Rats and mice may live longer drinking red wine and eating chocolates and berries, but the clinical evidence finds that red wine and chocolates should be viewed as indulgences, not health foods.

The study followed 783 people that were 65 years or older for a period of nine years. Of this group, 34.3% died during the study period. The amount of resveratrol in each subject was verified through urine testing to determine the level of a resveratrol metabolite, creatinine, found in the urine. Those that showed less wine consumption had a slightly better result than those that consumed the most.

The conclusions reached from this study were that the levels of resveratrol found in red wine did not have a major impact on health or mortality.

In older community-dwelling adults, total urinary resveratrol metabolite concentration was not associated with inflammatory markers, cardiovascular disease, or cancer or predictive of all-cause mortality. Resveratrol levels achieved with a Western diet did not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk of the population in this study.

You can read the abstract of the study that was published in the JAMA. There are numerous other articles available on the web regarding wine consumption and benefits and risks. The Mayo Clinic provides guidance into the major issues regarding alcohol consumption and health for the US population.

If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.

A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces (148 mL) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits.

The Italian study and US guidance suggest that it is best to drink red wine and eat chocolate in moderation. Red wine is best drunk in a group of friends to stay within the recommended five ounces for women and ten ounces for men. Dark chocolate contains less sugar and slightly lower calories than milk chocolate. Consider these as happy indulgences and don’t delude yourself regarding their health benefits.

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