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White wine might also have health benefits

July 2019

Glasses of wine
Red or white, which is better?

There have been some interesting reports in recent media about the health benefits of white wine and how white as well as red can provide good levels of antioxidants and other benefits. This has been especially welcome among all the summer white wine drinkers who have heard so much recently about the benefits of red wine.

Antioxidants are incredibly important in our health because they help to clean up free radicals roaming around our body.  These free radicals are unstable, electrically charged molecules in our cells that can cause enormous damage.

It is the high levels of antioxidants that has brought so called “superfoods” into modern life, foods like blueberries, pecan nuts and even dark chocolate plus of course red wine (in limited amounts, of course!).

However, before we get too excited about our summer glass of Chardonnay, the benefits talked about in white wine are slightly different from those offered from red wine and in some ways are quite muted.

One of the key differences in red and white wine is of course the colour of the grapes they are made from; red wine comes from red and black grapes while white wine is made from white grapes. But they also made in different ways. Red wine is made when the crushed whole grape while white wine is made from the grapes after the skin and seeds have been removed.

In a study on white wine benefits, Spanish researchers at the University of Barcelona looked at the phenolic and other contents. Phenolic content refers to the natural phenol and polyphenol found in wine which include many chemical compounds that affect the taste and colour of the drink.

Generally white wines have a lower phenolic content than red wines. However, despite this, interestingly the study found that white wine phenols still offer useful levels of antioxidants plus they provide other benefits in terms of health.

Various studies, including one published in the Journal of nutritional Biochemistry, reports that mice fed the polyphenols in white wine had a lower risk of developing problems that lead to Alzheimer’s. This was a benefit only associated with the polyphenols in white wine.

Other studies have concluded that the caffeic acid in white wine is key as it can help reduce the risk of heart and kidney problems.

Interestingly, when research was undertaken for direct comparison between red and white wines, the results came out as surprisingly balanced. Research reported by the European Society of Cardiology showed the results of a study of 146 subjects tracked over a year. Half of the subjects drank red Pinot Noir and the other half drank a white Chardonnay Pinot blend. At the end of the study, the scientists found no discernible difference between the red and white wine drinkers although all the people in the study showed improvement in cholesterol levels.

Another study, published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, again found no significant differences in the health benefits of red or white wine, but they did report that white wine contained many of the same protective plant flavonoids as red wine.

Red wine and white wine can be pretty equal in calories; with similar alcohol content, a glass of red wine has around 125 to 130 calories while a glass of white wine comes in at around 121 calories. However, choose a higher alcohol red like pinot noir or syrah and the calories can go up to 200 a glass. Here at least white wine could be the better choice.

Research is ongoing, but really none of it should be taken too seriously. Millions worldwide enjoy a glass or two of wine, especially out of doors on a summer’s evening, but no one should consider drinking red or white wine just because of the health properties...there are many other much healthier ways to obtain the same key benefits as those offered by wine.


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