When It Comes to Health, Wine Wins Over Beer
The battle being fought in laboratories and tasting rooms around the world is between beer drinkers and wine drinkers. Each side claims that their drink is the best, arguing over everything from taste to overall “classiness” of their libation of choice. Given that beer and wine are the two most popular alcoholic drinks in the U.S., it’s safe to say that each drink has certain merits.
Wine Is Good for Your Heart
While a Danish study in 2000 indicated that all forms of alcohol can lower the risk of heart disease, thanks to its ability to increase HDL cholesterol and hence reduce the thickening and hardening of the arteries, red wine was shown to be the most effective in preventing heart disease. Researchers chalk this up to the fact that red wine (and white wine, to a much lesser extent) contain tannin procyanin. This antioxidant encourages cell growth while also preventing plaque build-up in the arteries and reduces the risk of stroke and other serious heart problems. In fact, this antioxidant is believed to the be the explanation for the so called “French paradox,” the fact that the French have lower rates of heart disease than people from other countries, despite diets that tend to be high in fat and cholesterol.
That’s not to say that beer does not offer any heart benefits. A 2001 study indicated that beer does contain heart-healthy amounts of vitamin B6, which reduces the amount of the heart-disease causing amino acid homocysteine in the blood. However, this limited benefit pales in comparison to the proven and powerful benefits of red wine.
Lower Risk of Cancer
While red wine may be best known for reducing the risk of heart disease, it’s also beneficial in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Researchers chalk this up to the fact that red wine contains the flavonoid resveratrol, which is believed to help improve cell growth and block the development of tumour cells. Beer contains some antioxidants, but does not offer the same cancer-fighting properties as wine.
Wine Equals Lower Weight— In Moderation
There’s a reason that you don’t ever hear of anyone complaining about having a “wine belly”: In general, wine is far lower in calories than beer. The fact that one glass (about six ounces) of wine has fewer calories than an equivalent amount of beer helps wine drinkers maintain a healthy weight more easily compared to beer drinkers.
In fact, several studies have also indicated that wine drinkers tend to have healthier lifestyles than beer drinkers overall. One 2006 study in Denmark even tracked the grocery purchases of wine drinkers as compared to beer drinkers and found that those who chose wine tend to buy more fresh produce and lean meats, as opposed to beer drinkers who purchased processed and junk foods.
But that doesn’t mean that wine is a diet food. Overindulging in any type of alcohol, wine included, can send your calorie intake skyrocketing. Not only does heavy drinking create serious health risks including liver problems and a higher risk of certain cancers, it also raises our calorie intake considerably, leading to unhealthy weight gain.
However, beer drinkers are statistically more likely to overindulge than wine drinkers; one report showed that more than 81 percent of those who drink more than five drinks in a day choose beer, while only four percent of heavy drinkers choose wine. It’s important to note that every study touting the health benefits of drinking advocate for moderate alcohol consumption, meaning one five or six ounce glass of wine for women and one or two glasses for men per day.
Choosing wine over beer, or vice versa, is often a matter of personal preference. However, if you want to help your heart and give your cells a boost, a glass of wine is clearly a better choice.
*Data Courtesy: Tracy Farrington is a wine enthusiast who loves to travel and discover new and unusual wines wherever she goes. A firm believer in the health benefits of wine, she generally enjoys a glass of merlot or her favourite cabernet from citywinecellar.com with dinner, but she’ll never turn down a glass of good champagne.