Is there a better way to celebrate any occasion than with a glass of wine with a meal at night to relax? For many of us, a splash of merlot is a small way to wind down after the stresses of the day — but this simple after-dinner reward feels like even more of a treat when you realize all the wonderful effects a little tipple can have.
The health benefits of wine after dinner are numerous, so pour another glass and keep scrolling to learn more about all the ways in which red wine can heal your body. Trust us, there’s plenty to cheers about!
7 Benefits of Drinking Wine After Dinner
1. Red wine might lower blood sugar levels.
For people with type 2 diabetes, the secret to lowering blood sugar may rest in a nice glass of red — or white. In an October 2015 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes who drank a glass of red or white wine at dinner had lower glucose levels than those who drank water instead. This isn’t the first study to find that wine has a correlation with good blood sugar, either.
The study analyzed 224 patients with controlled type 2 diabetes. Participants of the study were randomly assigned to drink either five ounces of mineral water, white wine, or red wine after dinner every night for two years. All patients were following a healthy Mediterranean diet with no calorie restrictions.
In the end, researchers found that red wine drinkers had a modest improvement in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), aka the good cholesterol. Those who drank red or white wine also saw a slight improvement in glucose metabolism.
“Obviously excess drinking is harmful, but there is no good evidence to discourage moderate consumption among diabetics who have no other contraindication,” said study researcher Meir Stampfer, MD.
2. A glass of wine could help you shed pounds.
If you avoid alcohol or only have a glass for special occasions, this might be the perfect excuse to drink up more often. While consuming alcohol is typically associated with weight gain, a March 2010 study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine (now called JAMA Internal Medicine) found the opposite to be true. Researchers tracked almost 20,000 participants for almost 13 years, noting that by the end of the study, many of the women had gained weight. The group that packed on the most pounds during the study were people who abstained from drinking, gaining an average of eight pounds. Conversely, women who drank more than 30 grams of alcohol per day on average gained only 3.4 pounds.
“Our study results showed that middle-aged and older women who have normal body weight initially and consume a light-to-moderate amount of alcohol could maintain their drinking habits without gaining more weight compared with similar women who did not drink any alcohol,” Lu Wang, PhD, one of the researchers from the study, told Reuters Health in an email.
3. There’s a link between wine and cold prevention.
Wine is full of health benefits, but did you know that red wine can boost the immune system? In a May 2002 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, doctors found that drinking a moderate amount of wine can help develop immunity against 200 viruses that trigger one of the most annoying ailments out there: the common cold.
The study, which included more than 4,000 faculty members and administrative staff at five Spanish universities, asked participants to keep a diary noting any colds they developed during the year. Results of the study found that people who had more than 14 glasses of wine per week had a 40 percent lower risk of contracting a cold than those who drank less. Cheers to that!
4. Red wine could keep your memory sharp.
It seems counterintuitive that red wine could be the secret to staying mentally sharp, but that just might be the case! In a March 2012 review published in the journal Psychiatry Investigation, researchers looked at all studies published between 1971 and 2011 that explored the effects of alcohol on cognition. They found that there is some evidence suggesting low to moderate drinking in the elderly “protects against cognitive decline and dementia.” However, the review’s authors caution that more research needs to be done to determine the exact drinking pattern that results in optimal protection for older adults against dementia and cognitive decline.
In a 2010 study published in the journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, researchers tracked 5,033 stroke-free men and women for seven years to see what effect the consumption of alcohol had on cognition. The results showed that for both men and women, moderate wine consumption resulted in a better performance on cognition tests. Women who abstained from alcohol actually performed slightly worse on tests than did their peers who drank.
5. Wine just might be a cavity’s worst enemy.
If you like sweet red wines, it may come as a surprise to you that your sugary drink could actually prevent tooth decay. Red wine has antibacterial properties, which means fewer bacteria can attack your pearly whites. According to a May 2014 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers looked at whether red wine and other compounds could fight off cavity-causing bacteria. They grew bacteria cultures that are responsible for biofilm (a community of hard-to-kill bacteria), and then dipped the biofilm in different liquids, including red wine, red wine without alcohol, red wine spiked with grape seed extract, and water with 12 percent ethanol. The results showed that red wine with or without alcohol, and wine with grape seed extract, both fight off bacteria.
“This study is about applying something to the teeth that decreases bacteria,” said Gary L. Glasband, DDS, a dentist who is unrelated to the study but works at a private practice in California. “The effectiveness of this type of product [red wine] depends on how long it stays on the tooth, known as its ‘substantivity.’ Wine has a high substantivity, which you can see as it stains the teeth when you drink it.” Who knew pesky wine stains on teeth were actually an indicator that your vino was hard at work warding off cavities?
6. Wine is linked to a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
This next bit of news is the perfect excuse to have your husband break into that pricey red you’ve been stashing away. In a 2018 meta-analysis published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, researchers reviewed 17 studies to determine whether wine consumption affected a person’s risk of prostate cancer, focusing specifically on white versus red wine. The researchers looked at results from 611,169 patients and found that consuming a moderate amount of white wine increased a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer, while a moderate amount of red wine protected a person against developing prostate cancer.
7. Drinking moderate amounts of wine could be good for your heart.
Numerous studies have found that red-wine drinkers have higher levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol that protects your heart. Red wine also keeps the blood thin, which means there’s less chance of it clotting in your brain or arteries. In a 2009 paper published in the International Journal of Angiology, the authors questioned whether it was appropriate for doctors to prescribe red wine as a treatment for cardiovascular disease (CVD). They concluded that “regular and moderate consumption of red wine, perhaps one or two drinks a day with meals, should be encouraged… This would lead to a decreased incidence of CVD as well as other pathologies such as hypertension, peptic ulcer disease, respiratory infections, cholelithiasis, nephrolithiasis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. It may even improve our cognitive function.”
Have you finished your wine while reading about its wonderful benefits? Well, stand up, pour another glass, and drink up (in moderation, of course). Who knew being healthy could be so delicious?