Wine and Polyphenols Versus Sugar


Wine has recently garnered attention for its resveratrol content, a polyphenol that is reported to have anti-aging and anti-cancer properties. However, recent studies have shown that the ratio of polyphenols versus sugar in wine is not high enough to receive the promised health benefits. While resveratrol does have health benefits, new findings say that in order to receive these benefits, the dosage must be much higher than what is naturally found in a single five ounce serving of the drink.

The promising studies of resveratrol dosage in mice involved very high doses of the substance. If one were to gain these same results from the consumption of wine, the required intake would be about 1,000 glasses. This has been supported by a recent study, which measured the levels of dietary polyphenol intake as compared to incidences of heart disease, cancer, and longevity. Performed by Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with the University of Barcelona, this study revealed that naturally occurring resveratrol is negligible when compared to the amounts used in the mouse study. The studies that produced beneficial results for resveratrol involved dosages of up to two grams, or 2,000 milligrams, whereas a glass of wine contains between 0.2 and two milligrams on average.

One big health concern that is raised by this issue is the consumption of sugar. Drier varieties have less sugar, sometimes less than 1 gram per serving, but the comparison of polyphenols versus sugar content in even these variations proves negligible compared to the damage done by excessive sugar intake. To do the math, the 1,000 glasses that would be needed to reach 2,000 milligrams of resveratrol would account for at least 1,000 grams of sugar per day, depending on the dryness of the style that is consumed. Compared to the World Health Association’s recommended daily intake of 25 grams of sugar, the amount of sugar taken in by wine would be 40 times the recommended daily allowance. Weight gain and diabetes are known consequences of sugar consumption, but there are other, less-known effects resulting from this practice, such as heart disease, myopia, and some types of cancers. The chronic diseases caused by excessive sugar consumption are linked to insulin, a hormone that is released to help break down sugars within the body. Diabetes, a disease that is heavily affected by insulin levels, is one condition that would be severely worsened by attempting to consume resveratrol through wine consumption.

Resveratrol has been the subject of controversy regarding its beneficial health effects. While studies have proven that results can be seen with extreme doses of the antioxidant, consuming the drink in an attempt to gain these benefits is difficult and unhealthy. In addition to the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, the polyphenol versus sugar content of wine is too low for one to gain any health benefits without facing serious consequences. Americans alone spend $30 million per year on resveratrol supplements, which allow higher concentrations of the antioxidant to be taken without adverse effects from the sugar that is found in wine. These higher concentrations may provide health benefits, but drinking the beverage does not provide the necessary resveratrol content to make it a viable source for the antioxidant.

By Joseph Chisarick

HT Health

CBS News

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