The Surprising Health Benefits Of Drinking Wine

wine bottles
wine bottles
(Image credit: Juice/REX/Shutterstock)

We tend to think of a glass of prosecco or mulled wine as a naughty treat, but might we, in fact, be justified in considering our favourite festive tipple a health tonic? Quite possibly, say scientists. From fighting fat to safeguarding your memory, read on to discover the benefits of your tipple of choice...

All wines...

1. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Moderate wine drinkers are 13% less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

2. Reduce your chances of catching a cold

Drinking at least 14 glasses of wine a year reduces your chance of catching a cold by 40%, according to one study. 3. Decrease your risk of depression

Those who drink 2-7 glasses of wine a week are less likely to suffer from depression, according to research.

4. Lower your chances of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

People who drink up to one glass of wine a day are 50% less likely to develop non-alcoholic liver disorders, say researchers.

5. Could help you lose weight

It may be packed with calories, but substances found in red wine, such as piceatannol and resveratrol, may inhibit the growth of fat cells and help to turn 'bad' white fat into calorie-burning brown fat. Prefer white (wine, that is, not fat)? Get 10% of your calorie intake from white wine and you'll lose as much weight as you would drinking the equivalent in fruit juice, according to research. 6. Fight food poisoning

Wine is capable of killing almost every germ that can cause food poisoning, say scientists.

7. Increase bone mineral density

A glass of wine a day could help to ward off osteoporosis, according to researchers.

Red wine...

1. Has anti-ageing properties

Red wine really does have anti-ageing properties, according to Harvard researchers, who have discovered that resveratrol increases the life span of mice. 2. Helps keep blood vessels healthy

Resveratrol may have anti-inflammatory and circulation-enhancing properties, but many researchers argue that it simply isn't present in high enough quantities for moderate Merlot consumption to make a real difference. However, the protective effects of polyphenols such as procyanidins, also found in red wine, on blood vessels may help to prevent heart disease and stroke, and probably contribute towards the long life spans of people in southwestern France and Sardinia, according to researchers.

3. Raises levels of good cholesterol

Researchers have discovered that a daily glass of red can increase your levels of "good" HDL cholesterol whilst decreasing the circulating levels of substances associated with blood clots. 4. Reduces your risk of dementia

Moderate red wine drinkers are 23% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, according to researchers.

5. Can reduce your risk of breast and bowel cancer

The polyphenols and flavanoids found in red wine seem to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast and bowel cancer. For instance, one study found that moderate red wine drinkers were 50% less likely to be diagnosed with bowel cancer. 6. Helps protect vision

Moderate consumption of red wine appears to guard against age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

White wine...

1. May have higher antioxidant levels than red wine

It's long played second fiddle to red, but research suggests that white wine could be just as beneficial - perhaps, in some ways, even more so.

2. Could improve lung function

Moderate drinkers of white wine have healthier lungs, according to research.

Sparkling wine (i.e. champagne, prosecco, cava)...

1. Reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke

Did you know that both red and white grapes are used to produce premium sparkling wines? According to some researchers, this means double the polyphenolic bang for your buck... The red and white grape-derived polyphenols found in wines such as champagne and prosecco can improve blood flow, decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and clotting. Research suggests that 2 glasses a day could confer heart-protecting benefits. 2. Could stave off age-related memory loss

1-3 glasses of sparkling wine a week could help to counteract age-related memory loss and delay the onset of degenerative disorders such as dementia, researchers suggest. 3. Heightens sexual desire

The polyphenols found in sparkling wine encourage artery walls to relax, improving blood flow and enhancing desire.

4. Improves mood

Sparkling wines contain the minerals zinc, magnesium and potassium, thought to promote mental wellbeing.

Mulled wine...

1. Fights inflammation

Yes, it may be a sweet treat, but mulled wine is also chock-a-block with super spices. Cinnamon, for example, is packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients which help to reduce swelling and inflammation, and restore normal tissue function.

2. Supports liver and kidney function

Nutmeg supports the liver's detoxification process, improves kidney function and efficiency, and helps to dissolve kidney stones.

3. Improves digestion

Cloves enhance gut mobility and enhance digestive efficiency, helping to relieve indigestion and constipation.