If you have taken a glass or two of wine at bedtime in the past and felt a little guilty about it — rejoice! New research has found that this ritual might actually be good for your health — and even help you achieve your weight loss goals.
What the Studies Found
Two separate studies, one from Washington University and one from Harvard, both found a link between regular, moderate alcohol consumption and a healthy body weight.
In the study out of Harvard, scientists looked at almost 20,000 women who were of a healthy body weight for 13 years and studied them for factors like weight gain, physical activity, and alcohol consumption. Researchers concluded that “compared with non-drinkers, initially normal weight women who consumed a light to moderate amount of alcohol gained less weight and reduced their risk of obesity.”
The Washington University study, which was performed on overweight female mice, found that the mice who were given extract of resveratrol, an active ingredient in red wine, produced more “brown” fat cells; these fat cells, as opposed to white fat cells, make it easier to lose weight and keep it off. While this is not as conclusive as a human study, it does at least indicate that resveratrol has, as the researchers noted, “beneficial anti-obesity effects.”
Scientists from both studies attribute these findings to the resveratrol in wine. This much-studied compound appears to be able to curb the appetite naturally so that fewer calories are consumed without having to suffer through hunger pains. Resveratrol also appears to be able to have a positive effect on fat cells by preventing them from storing even more fat.
The Studies in Context
These studies are part of a growing body of evidence that wine-drinking might actually be beneficial for those who are trying to shed those extra pounds. Several recent studies have linked wine or alcohol consumption to a healthier weight:
- The University of Denmark published a study which looked at drinking habits versus abdominal girth and found that regular drinkers tended to have the smallest waistlines.
- A study on overweight or obese laboratory mice found that the animals given an extract from pinot noir grapes not only lost weight but had lower blood sugars than mice who did not receive this supplementation.
Other Health Benefits of Resveratrol
Resveratrol itself has also been studied on its own in order to understand its benefits better, and apart from helping with weight loss, there are many other good reasons to make sure you are getting enough of it in your diet. For one thing, it appears to be cardio-protective, meaning that it helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease. This is because it can lower both high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, which are major risk factors for heart conditions.
It also increases the sensitivity of your cells to insulin and prevents or treats insulin resistance, which not only makes it easier to lose weight but could lower your risk of diabetes as well.
Finally, several studies have shown that it can help with, prevent, or treat age-related memory loss, and the Alzheimer’s Association notes that several studies are underway to see how this compound can help improve mental function.
A Few Things to Consider
It is important to note, however, that these health benefits, as far as we know, only apply to wine (and mostly red wine, at that) due to its high resveratrol content. This is not a license to go and drink excessively, as this beverage is both high in sugar and in calories — and is also linked to problems like liver damage if it becomes a long-term habit. It has also been shown that excessive drinking can actually raise blood pressure and blood sugar levels as well.
So what is a moderate amount? According to the Mayo Clinic, a serving of alcohol is 5 ounces of wine. A moderate amount is considered to be two drinks daily for a man and one for a woman. Also, moderate drinking is most effective when it is part of other sensible lifestyle habits, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management.
These studies are encouraging, as they show that simple habits like regular wine consumption can be helpful for people wanting to achieve a healthy body weight. And the extra health benefits that resveratrol provides, such as better heart health and brain function, make it doubly attractive. So — within reason — drink up! These regular glasses of wine can make the challenge of weight loss easier to overcome.
Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com