What happens when you drink wine every day? The side effects are not as bad as you may assume. In fact, it can do a body good. Wine has some great health benefits. It just so happens to be the best beverage to drink regularly for a longer life, it may protect your heart, it could reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and it can help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.
But if you want to reap these benefits rather than drinking alcohol’s downfalls (weight gain, belly fat, disrupted sleep), then you’ll want to make sure you’re drinking the right amount of wine. So how much wine is too much?
You’ll often see the same phrase again and again when it comes to reaping wine’s health benefits: it has to be in moderation.
What moderation means according to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans is up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. For wine, a drink is defined as 5 fluid ounces at 12% alcohol by volume.
While this is the USDA’s recommended limit for those who drink, it is not a recommendation to actually consume that amount of alcohol. According to the USDA, “those who do not drink should not begin to drink because they believe alcohol would make them healthier.”
That being said, alcohol can be consumed at low levels with relatively low risk—and can actually offer some health benefits if you make sure to consume it in moderation. Let’s take a look.
Italian researchers conducted a meta-analysis that reviewed 34 independent studies to determine the connection between alcohol and mortality (how long you’ll live). The study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that the relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality was a J-shaped relationship. Using participants who avoided alcohol as a baseline, increasing your alcohol intake can actually reduce your risk of early death—but this was only the case for so long. After they reached a certain number of drinks, their risk of death was higher.
The meta-analysis showed that those who drank approximately half a drink per day had the lowest mortality rate. But, researchers noted that there is a range of the amount you can drink where you can still reap these life-lengthening benefits. Up to 4 drinks per day in men was protective, and no more than 2 drinks per day in women was protective.
Another review, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, also sought to answer the question “to drink or not to drink?” The researchers looked at multiple factors beyond life expectancy, namely cardiovascular health, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and hypertension to determine the effect of drinking wine on heart health.
After referencing nearly 140 studies, the paper came to a conclusion. (Well, as close to a conclusion as they could — the researchers said there still needs to be more research done to confirm their suspicions.) When it comes to heart health, drinking 1 to 2 drinks in men and 1 drink per day for women is how much wine is not only safe to drink per day, but is also the amount that will confer health benefits.
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When it comes to brain health, and your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease specifically, the same standards ring true. French researchers found that subjects who drank less than 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day (who were classified as “mild drinkers”) had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who did not drink at all.
Next time you pour a glass of vino during dinner, keep the cork close if you want to keep your health in mind. And for more on this fermented grape beverage, don’t miss these 10 Sneaky Reasons You’re Always Overpaying For Wine.