Kicking back with a glass of red wine is a great way to wind down after a long day. Researchers have long touted vino’s heart healthy value, but what if I told you there are several other health benefits to sipping on red wine every now and again? Here are 7 other benefits of red wine that you probably didn’t know about.

1. Protects your smile.

When it comes to red wine and your teeth, it has been labeled as a big fat stainer, which can be true. However, evidence shows that wine also protects your teeth from bacteria. Proanthocyanidins (flavonoids with antioxidants) in red wine help prevent bacteria from sticking to your pearly whites, thus preventing cavities and plaque buildup. Now, that’s a reason to smile.

2. Aids digestion.

A glass of red wine with your meal may do more than just ease conversation. Polyphenols in wine help your gut lessen the harmful effects of certain chemicals before they are distributed throughout the rest of your system. They also tell the body to release nitric oxide, which relaxes (stretches) the walls of your stomach as it fills with food, helps counteract effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and improves digestion.

3. Whittle your waistline.

Red wine not only helps make you feel more satisfied and suppress your appetite (so you eat less), but studies say it also can halt the growth of fat cells through a substance called piceatannol. Basically, the substance stops the fat cells from fully forming or maturing into full-blown fat. The result? A lesser chance of becoming obese.

4. Strengthen your bones.

Recent studies show that moderately consuming red wine helps maintain strong, healthy bones. This connection is especially evident in the case of postmenopausal women. Stronger bones mean a lesser chance of developing osteoporosis. However, it’s a balance; over-consumption has the reverse effect and can make bones weaker and more brittle. Remember: moderation is key!

5. Fight a cold.

It’s true: the high levels of antioxidant-rich polyphenols impede the multiplication of viruses once they’re in your system. It also helps lower your susceptibility to flu and cold viruses in the first place. According to a study in Spain, individuals who drank two or more glasses a day had a 44% lower incidence of colds than non-drinkers.

6. Prevent cancer.

Perhaps some of the most exciting research reveals red wine’s cancer-fighting powers, thanks to the presence of polyphenols (especially resveratrol). Polyphenols, found in grapes, have some incredible antioxidant attributes that include protection from the free radicals that damage cells and DNA and lead to cancer. In particular, resveratrol has proven to impede the growth of cancer cells and incidence of tumors in studies with animals. Researchers are hoping to use this knowledge in future cancer prevention and treatment.

7. Live longer.

Not only does resveratrol potentially prevent cancer, it might also fight aging. In a fascinating new study on worms, resveratrol was shown to extend lifespan by 60%! It accomplishes this by both preventing disease (such as cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes) and by triggering the so-called “longevity gene” (SIRT1) which further boosts overall health and wellness. Scientists have high hopes for the future of resveratrol in extending human lifespan and vitality.

These are just six of the benefits of red wine—there is other research that suggests it helps lower cholesterol, prevent the onset of dementia, and even promote better lung function. Just remember that these health returns are reaped from moderate consumption (aim for around 1 glass a night for women, 1-2 for men) and that extreme consumption actually reverses many of these benefits.

As long as you keep this in mind, sit back, relax, and keep on pouring!

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Featured photo credit: tobiastoft via Flickr

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