A glass of wine CAN provide you with antioxidants! But what exactly are antioxidants and why do we need them? Read on to discover all that and more!
If you’re looking for antioxidant-rich foods to munch on, there’s a wide variety to choose from. There’s blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, and even artichokes. But if you’d prefer to sip on antioxidants, the most delicious option has to be wine!
But what exactly are antioxidants? Every day there’s some new ad encouraging us to try an antioxidant-rich moisturizer, smoothie mix, or even supplement. They make them sound so luxurious, but why are they so important?
That’s what we’ll be talking about today! There’s a lot of information flying around out there, so it’s hard to know what’s legitimate. However, here are three things you can trust…
- Antioxidants are important for your overall health and wellness.
- Wine has antioxidants in it.
- Wine is delicious!
While we already know wine is delicious, today we’re taking a closer look at those first two items.
What Are Antioxidants?
First, antioxidants are important because they help combat oxidative stress. Sadly, dancing like no one’s watching might not get rid of this kind of stress.
During your body’s normal metabolic processes, it produces free radicals (oxidative stress). These molecules have one or more unpaired electron, and, if left unchecked, can contribute to cell damage. Normally, the body neutralizes free radicals by producing antioxidants. Antioxidants will lend their own electrons to make free radicals more stable and less damaging.
This balance is important because certain activities naturally produce more free radicals. When we exercise, for example, our bodies experience oxidative stress in the muscles. This process promotes muscle growth and produces more antioxidants to neutralize those free radicals. This is just one example of how the balance of free radicals and antioxidants is completely normal and necessary.
Long-term oxidative stress without enough antioxidants, however, increases signs of aging and contributes to several conditions such as chronic inflammation and high blood pressure.
Lifestyle changes can help reduce oxidative stress. However, environmental factors, like pollution, are harder to avoid. That’s why supplementing your diet with antioxidant-rich foods and drinks is so important. Plus, it makes drinking that daily glass of wine that much more delicious 😉
What Kind of Antioxidants Does Wine Have?
There are actually several different types of antioxidants. Wine is full of a particular type of antioxidant called polyphenols. To understand where the name comes from, you’ll need some chemistry knowledge, but we’ll just give you the basics…
“Phenol” refers to the type of chemical compound and “poly” just means there are multiple compounds. You can find polyphenols naturally in many plants where they usually play defensive roles. Sometimes they help plants by making darker pigments, repairing physical damage, and even protection from UV rays.
Wine gets its polyphenols from the skins of grapes. The darker the grape, the more antioxidants it has. Since red wine uses darker grapes and naturally has more contact with the actual grape skins, red wines are more antioxidant-rich than white wines.
That’s why so many people praise red wine for its antioxidants. Supposedly, red wine boosts the number of antioxidants in your blood, which lowers inflammation and oxidative stress. There was even a two-week study showing increased blood-antioxidant levels in forty adults who consumed 13.5 ounces of red wine daily.
The jury is still out on the efficacy of such practices (especially since the daily recommended amount of wine is roughly four ounces) so we’ll leave that one to the scientists. We do know, however, that red wine is also praised for having larger amounts of a specific type of antioxidant–resveratrol.
What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is easily the most widely known polyphenol in wine. Its anti-inflammatory powers are so well studied it’s even used in many cosmetics and dietary supplements. Many plants naturally produce this antioxidant whenever they’re damaged or experiencing some kind of illness.
It’s not just good for plants though, resveratrol is incredibly good for us too! Several studies have looked at resveratrol as a potential therapy for regulating insulin, reducing bad cholesterol, and even slowing down certain diseases.
While that all sounds amazing, it’s important to remember many of these studies used massive amounts of resveratrol. The amount of resveratrol in a single glass of red wine is not enough to offset any of the conditions mentioned above. So, we would never recommend someone attempt to cure a medical condition with wine (however tempting it might be).
Another important thing to consider is the type of wine you drink. If you drink an entire bottle of cheap wine every night that’s full of added sugars and chemicals…please stop. Any benefits you might have gotten will be offset by the excess sugar and alcohol. That’s why it’s important to select a high-quality wine with no added sugars and no unnecessary additives.
A Glass of Wine A Day Helps Keep Free Radicals Away
So, maybe the antioxidants in red wine won’t immediately erase all your woes. However, over time it may contribute to more balanced antioxidant-blood levels. I mean, we’re not saying Italy has some of the most lively senior populations because of their wine…but we’re not NOT saying that.