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Mediterranean Diet: Should You Drink Wine or Eat Grapes? — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 21, 2008 at 1:33 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Mediterranean Diet: Should You Drink Wine or Eat Grapes?


Wine sales in the past years have gone up dramatically due to the wide promotion of wine's health benefits. Many consumers who never previously drank wine are now becoming wine enthusiasts. And, as we learn more and more about the amazing benefits of antioxidants, there is an increased consumption of various fruits including blueberries, pomegranates and grapes. But which is better: wine or grapes?


Let's first talk about antioxidants, because they are what this issue is all about. Antioxidants are the superheroes of the body; they ward off diseases causes by oxidants, or free radicals. Free radicals enter the body from almost any harmful source you can think of: chemical inhalation, cigarette smoke, air pollution, skin contact with contaminants, fried foods, even stress can create free radicals. These free radicals work inside your body by bonding to and damaging the cells and weakening their molecules. Antioxidants bond to these free radicals and prevent them from doing any damage. While our bodies produce antioxidants, we don't make nearly enough to combat the huge amounts of free radicals we are exposed to every day. Therefore, we need to consume as many antioxidant-rich foods as we can.

Health Benefits of Antioxidants

Antioxidants do a number of great things in the body, including:

  • Lowering amounts of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing amounts of good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Preventing blood vessel damage
  • Promoting healthy blood pressure
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing high blood sugar
  • Preventing gum disease

Before You Get To Chugging

Before you grab that bottle of red wine, let's talk more about wine in general and alcohol consumption. The FDA recommends no more than one alcoholic beverage daily for women and two for men in the form of:

  • One 12 ounce beer
  • One 5 ounce glass of wine
  • One 1.5 ounce shot of liquor

Europeans support the consumption of 2 to 3 glasses of wine a day for women, and 3 to 4 for men. Since supporters of red wine often cite European diets for their health benefits, they support the appropriate consumption of at least two glasses of wine daily. By appropriate consumption we mean drinking wine with a meal, not on an empty stomach. And, abstaining from wine for four days does not mean you can drink 8 glasses in one day and receive the same health benefits. Studies have shown 1 to 2 glasses of red wine each day may lower risk of heart disease by 30 to 50%, while excessive drinking will rapidly increase the risk of heart disease.

What About Grapes?

While red wine has plenty of antioxidants, fresh fruit and vegetables actually have more. Fresh grapes or red grape juice have the same health benefits as red wine does, without the alcohol. Many other fresh fruits have large amounts of antioxidants and plenty of other vitamins and minerals too. Before you stock up on red wine, consider your reasons for doing so. Wine in moderation is a delicious accompaniment to any meal; however it is no substitute for fresh fruits as a source of antioxidants. If you're looking to supplement your diet with antioxidants, go no further than your grocer's produce section.


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