Examining the health benefits of wine

December 12, 2013

Q. Does wine have real health benefits?

There is evidence that wine has health benefits, but here’s an important statement from the American Heart Association:

Over the past several decades, many studies have been published in science journals about how drinking alcohol may be associated with reduced mortality due to heart disease in some populations. Some researchers have suggested that the benefit may be due to wine, especially red wine. Others are examining the potential benefits of components in red wine such as flavonoids and other antioxidants in reducing heart disease risk. Some of these components may be found in other foods such as grapes or red grape juice.

The linkage reported in many of these studies may be due to other lifestyle factors rather than alcohol. Such factors may include increased physical activity, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables and lower in saturated fats. No direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

The reduction in heart-disease deaths may be caused by resveratrol, a substance found in the skin of grapes, especially purple and dark red grapes.

Resveratrol is also found in grape juice made from dark grapes. Both red wine and dark grape juice may reduce the risk of blood clots and LDL, the harmful cholesterol. Wine and juice may also prevent damage to coronary blood vessels, and maintain healthy blood pressure.

Both red wine and grape juice also contain antioxidants that have been shown to lower your risk of clogged arteries. The antioxidants may help lower blood pressure, too.

Q. What lifestyle changes can raise your HDL number?

High-density lipoproteins remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. HDL should be at 60 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) or higher to cut the risk of heart disease.

Here are some tips to raise your HDLs:

* Quit smoking

* Reduce your intake of meat, eggs and dairy products

* Increase your intake of monounsaturated fats such as canola oil, avocado oil or olive oil

* Consume soluble fibers that are in oats, fruits, vegetables and legumes

* Drink cranberry juice

* Eat fish and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids

* Avoid cakes, cookies and highly processed cereals and breads

* Exercise

* Lose weight.

Q. Are women happier than men?

There was a study of men and women in the United States that showed women are happier than men in their youth, and are unhappier when they are old.

Among the influences upon happiness found in the study are these:

• Women marry earlier than men, leading to higher satisfaction with family life at that time in their lives.

• Men are the saddest in their twenties, when they are the most likely to be single.

• In later years, men tend to be married, and many women are widowed or divorced.

• Early in life, women are more likely to fulfill their financial aspirations because they tend to marry slightly older men at a young age.

• Young men are more dissatisfied with their finances, because they want more than young women do.

• Men become more satisfied with their finances as they age, because they have increased spending power.

If you would like to read more columns, you can order a copy of "How to be a Healthy Geezer" at

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