Alcohol is bad for you. It can harm your memory. Drinking increases your risk of liver disease and oral cancers. Alcohol raises blood pressure and increases the risk of strokes. Drinking during pregnancy can harm the development of the unborn child.
In spite of all this, there is something that doctors call the “French paradox.” Coronary disease rates in France are lower than in other industrialized nations with similar risk factors. It appears linked to high levels of wine consumption in France.
Numerous studies demonstrate a correlation between moderate wine consumption and reduced coronary risk. It is not the alcohol that seems to provide the effect, however. Consumption of beer, distilled grains or even white wines does not offer the same reduction in coronary disease. Only red wine.
Should you set aside teetotaling, and swallow your pride along with a daily glass of red wine for the health benefits?
A new study by the University of Wisconsin1 indicates that it may not be the red wine providing the health benefits—it may be the red and purple grapes used to make red wine. It turns out compounds in grapes called flavonoids are what offer protection against heart disease. Also present in these grapes are antioxidants, which also have health benefits. Both are non-alcoholic elements present in red wine. High concentrations of both flavonoids and antioxidants occur in red and purple grapes. The highest concentrations are found in purple grapes, such as Concord grapes.
The study further showed that drinking purple grape juice has an effect similar to consuming a similar amount of red wine in reducing cardiovascular risk. Not bad. You can get the health benefits associated with that daily glass of wine—without the additional risks that come with alcohol consumption. Substitute a morning glass of purple grape juice for orange juice, or pack a bunch of Concord grapes with your lunch. You get guilt-free flavonoids, and antioxidants, too.