People have been drinking wine for thousands of years, and the benefits of doing so have been well documented (1Trusted Source).
Emerging research continues to suggest that drinking wine in moderation — about a glass per day — offers several benefits.
This article explains everything you need to know about the health benefits of drinking wine, which type is healthiest, and its potential downsides.
Potential benefits of drinking wine
There are several benefits to drinking a glass of wine.
Rich in antioxidants
There are many antioxidant-rich foods and beverages, and wine is one of them.
Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cellular damage caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a condition caused by an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable molecules called free radicals, which can damage your cells (2Trusted Source).
Grapes have high levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (3Trusted Source).
Because red wine grapes are higher in antioxidants than white grape varieties, drinking red wine may increase your blood antioxidant levels to a greater extent than drinking white (4Trusted Source).
In fact, one 2-week study in 40 adults found that consuming 13.5 ounces (400 ml) of red wine daily increased antioxidant status (2Trusted Source).
Higher antioxidant status is associated with a decreased risk of disease. For example, drinking red wine has been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which are associated with oxidative stress (3Trusted Source).
May help combat inflammation
Wine contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic inflammation is harmful and may increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and certain cancers. Therefore, it’s best to prevent this type of inflammation as much as possible (5Trusted Source).
Chronic inflammation can be reduced through diet, stress reduction, and exercise.
Many foods have the power to reduce inflammation, and wine is thought to be one of them.
Studies suggest that a compound called resveratrol in wine has anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit health (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
One study in 4,461 adults demonstrated that moderate consumption of wine was linked to a reduced inflammatory response (7Trusted Source).
Participants in this study self-reported their alcohol intake. Those who consumed up to 1.4 ounces (40 grams) of alcohol per day experienced less inflammation than those who didn’t drink (7Trusted Source).
What’s more, in a study including 2,900 women, those who consumed a glass of wine daily had significantly reduced inflammatory markers compared with women who abstained from alcohol (8Trusted Source).
On the other hand, other research has found red wine to have a less dramatic effect.
A study in 87 adults of an average age of 50 found that drinking 5 ounces (150 ml) of red wine daily caused only slight reductions in inflammatory markers compared with abstaining from alcohol (9Trusted Source).
Although the research is promising, more studies are needed to better understand the anti-inflammatory benefits of wine.
May benefit heart health
Studies show that individuals who consume moderate amounts of wine have reduced rates of heart disease (10Trusted Source).
Researchers believe that red wine’s high concentration of polyphenol antioxidants can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and metabolic diseases (11Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that drinking red wine may reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart disease (12Trusted Source).
Yet, other studies suggest that a daily glass of red wine does not reduce blood pressure in people with normal blood pressure or those who already have heart disease (13Trusted Source).
What’s more, wine may interact with medication that lowers blood pressure (14Trusted Source).
Furthermore, excessive alcohol consumption may have negative effects on heart health, including increased blood pressure and a higher risk of developing heart disease (15Trusted Source).
Whether moderate wine intake benefits heart health is up for debate as research in this area continues (16Trusted Source).
Drinking wine in moderation may also have other benefits:
May benefit mental health. An occasional glass of wine may reduce the risk of depression. However, excessive drinking can have the opposite effect, putting you at a higher risk of this condition (17Trusted Source, 18).
May promote longevity. Studies have found that drinking moderate amounts of wine as part of a healthy diet may increase longevity thanks to wine’s high antioxidant content (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
May promote healthy gut bacteria. Recent studies have even suggested that red wine may promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which may improve metabolic syndrome markers in people with obesity (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that drinking wine in moderation provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that may improve your gut bacteria and boost your heart health, mental health, and longevity. However, most research has focused on red wine.
Which type of wine has the most benefit?
Many people wonder about the differences between red and white wine.
Unfortunately, more research on white wine is needed, as most studies analyzing the benefits of drinking wine has focused on the beneficial properties of red wine.
Red wine has been widely acknowledged for its high concentration of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found in grape skins (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
In fact, red wine has up to 10 times more resveratrol than white wine (24Trusted Source).
Red wine likely provides more health benefits than white wine. However, more research is needed, particularly on white wine.
Excessive alcohol intake can be harmful. Binge drinking and consuming high amounts of alcohol is associated with negative health outcomes (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
In fact, an average of 87, 798 people die in the United States each year due to excessive alcohol consumption. This accounts for 1 in 10 deaths for adults between the ages of 20 and 64 (25Trusted Source).
Heavy alcohol consumption poses several health risks, including an increased risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, liver and pancreatic diseases, as well as unintentional injury (27Trusted Source).
A recent analysis of studies found the optimal daily intake of wine to be 1 glass (150 ml) for women and 2 glasses (300 ml) for men. Drinking this moderate amount of wine is associated with health benefits, while drinking more than that may impact your health (21Trusted Source).
The US government’s most recent dietary guidelines make similar recommendations. They suggest that, if you drink alcohol, you should do so in moderation, which means one drink for women and up to two drinks for men per day (28Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that even though moderate wine consumption can provide several health benefits, it’s important to consider your overall diet quality. An unhealthy diet can outweigh the benefits of drinking a daily glass of wine (25Trusted Source).
Additionally, certain individuals should abstain from alcohol, including minors, pregnant women, and individuals on certain medications (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
While moderate wine consumption may have health benefits, excessive alcohol intake can have negative health outcomes. Certain individuals and populations should abstain from drinking alcohol.
Studies have found that consuming moderate amounts of wine along with a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial for your health (31Trusted Source).
Research has found the optimal daily amount to be 1 glass (150 ml) for women and 2 glasses (300 ml) for men. This regimen is part of a Mediterranean diet and has been associated with beneficial health outcomes and disease prevention (21Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
Although research suggests that drinking a glass of wine has several potential health benefits, they can also be obtained by eating a healthy diet.
In other words, if you didn’t drink wine before, you don’t need to start simply for the health benefits.
For example, a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, legumes, fish, and nuts already provides high amounts of antioxidants and helps prevent heart disease (32Trusted Source).
While a daily glass of wine can benefit your health, you can reap the same health benefits by consuming a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.
The bottom line
Research suggests that drinking an occasional glass of red wine is good for you.
It provides antioxidants, may promote longevity, and can help protect against heart disease and harmful inflammation, among other benefits.
Interestingly, red wine likely has higher levels of antioxidants than white wine. Still, more research is needed to better understand which types of wine provide the most benefits.
However, it’s important to remember that drinking wine is not healthy for everyone, nor is it necessary. You can reap the same benefits by consuming a healthy diet.