Can you eat clean and still drink wine?
Can drinking wine actually boost the health benefits you might otherwise gain from eating clean?
And what about weight loss and wine?
Is it possible to lose weight and still drink wine?
These are some of the questions we are asked on a regular basis. Our answer almost always surprises everyone…
The truth is moderate wine consumption has some pretty amazing health benefits. One of the earliest scientific studies on the subject of wine and health was published in JAMA in 1904.(1) We suspect the researcher who did this study might have been a wine enthusiast like us; because we love wine we have really looked at the research to determine whether it is something we can safely include in our diets. And the good news for wine enthusiasts is that we think regular moderate wine consumption is not only safe, but healthy too. Since the 1904 JAMA study, a flood of research has shown moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are abstainers or heavy drinkers. And yes, you can absolutely lose weight (or maintain your current weight) and still drink wine.
Simple Life Pleasures
“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”—Benjamin Franklin
We have always loved that quote by Benjamin Franklin. We also like the one by Thomas Jefferson, who by the way, lived to the ripe old age of 83 (almost double the life expectancy of someone from his era)—Jefferson once said, “Good wine is a necessity of life.” We will toast to that!
It is no surprise why many people the world over love the taste of wine. The two natural substances known to convey the flavor of food most effectively are fat and alcohol. That’s why a salad with a drizzle of oil, a few nuts or some avocado tastes immensely better than dry lettuce leaves. It’s why fat-free marinara just isn’t as satisfying or enjoyable as a marinara made with a little olive oil. Anyone who cooks regularly—or enjoys eating—can tell you a little bit of fat goes a very long way to enhance the flavor of food. Wine has the same effect. Pretty much all wine aficionados will tell you a glass of wine with dinner simply makes the food taste better. And of course a glass of wine helps you unwind and relax after a long day.
As we mentioned earlier, we are wine lovers. It’s such a simple life pleasure, but our evening glass of wine is something we always look forward to and something we feel enhances the quality of our life.
But beyond the taste-enhancing and temporary relaxation benefits a glass of wine provides —the science behind the health-promoting and weight loss benefits associated with moderate wine consumption are pretty impressive. Click HERE to read more about the research on how moderate wine consumption can potentially do a body good.
Wine Benefits, Minus the Alcohol
After reading the benefits associated with moderate wine consumption you might be tempted to head straight to the bar for a nice glass of Merlot. If you currently drink beer or hard liquor then making the switch to wine would be an excellent decision. This is because in comparison to hard liquor and beer, wine contains antioxidants and phytonutrients and is also very low in sugar (hard liquor is low in sugar but contains no antioxidants or phytonutrients; beer contains antioxidants and phytonutrients yet most varieties also contain a good deal of empty-calorie sugar.) But what if you currently do not drink any alcohol? Should you start? This is a hard question to answer and it depends on many different factors. If you have a family history of alcoholism or you’ve personally had a problem with alcohol or other substance abuse issues in the past you shouldn’t start drinking any type of alcohol. If you battle depression drinking wine on a regular basis is not a good idea either. Women who are pregnant, people taking medication that should not be combined with alcohol, and patients with liver disease should also abstain. In these cases the benefits simply don’t outweigh the risks.
Although the alcohol content in wine undoubtedly plays a role in promoting potential health benefits, there are other substances in wine, such as the polyphenol resveratrol, that also play an important role. Polyphenols are a class of powerful anti-aging phytonutrients that work on many levels to slow aging, reduce inflammation and protect against disease.
It can be a bit difficult to get a therapeutic level of polyphenols from diet alone and we don’t necessarily want you drinking wine by the bucketful either! However, if you are not already a wine lover or you have a condition that might make alcohol consumption unsafe for you, then you might want to consider supplementing with a mixed polyphenol supplement that contains a broad spectrum of the polyphenols found in wine.
While the scientific community was initially spotlighting resveratrol as the “super star” polyphenol responsible for the anti-aging and health-promoting benefits in wine, the latest research shows that it is a combination of many different polyphenols that work synergistically to enhance health and slow aging. Just as we do not suggest you supplement with other isolated phytonutrients (such as curcumin, lycopene or isoflavones), we also advice against supplementing with isolated resveratrol—-this is because in nature the grapes used to make wine contain many, many other phytonutrients beyond just resveratrol and so if you are going to supplement you want to get as close to nature as you possibly can with a supplement that contains mixed polyphenol phytonutrients.
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The Final Word on Health, Weight Loss and Wine
In conclusion, although we know plenty of super clean eaters and avid health enthusiasts who advocate eliminating wine completely, we are not one of them. We just can’t find to back that recommendation up.
- R. C. Cabot, “The Relation of Alcohol to Atherosclerosis,” Journal of the American Medical Association 43 (1904): 774–75.
- H. Ghanim, et al. “A Resveratrol and Polyphenol Preparation Suppresses Oxidative and Inflammatory Stress Response to a High-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Meal.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2011 May; 96 (5):1409-14. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-1812. Epub 2011 Feb 2.