7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

Yep, moderate red wine consumption is healthy—and here’s the proof.

Red Grapes With Wineglass On Table At Field: red wine health benefits
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Enjoying a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine can do much more than help you unwind after a long day and make dinner taste more delicious. When consumed in limited quantities—up to one 5-ounce glass for women and up to two 5-ounce glasses for men per day—red wine has some surprisingly healthy benefits. To answer the age-old question of whether or not red wine is actually good for you, here's what a dietitian and the latest research have to say about the known health benefits of drinking red wine, and how it can potentially impact your overall wellness.

01 of 07

Red wine helps regulate blood sugar.

Despite containing natural sugars, red wine can actually help regulate blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association. Drinking red wine can lower your blood sugar for up to 24 hours, which may be beneficial for those with higher blood sugar levels. While red wine shouldn't be substituted for blood glucose management medications and treatment plans, it may be a helpful dietary addition in moderation.

02 of 07

It boosts memory and cognitive functioning.

Red wine is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help the body fight off disease, among other benefits. Resveratrol, a type of polyphenol found in red wine, may also help improve short-term memory. Recent studies show that resveratrol actually has the power to reduce damage caused by sleep deprivation, like memory deficits, and can boost your ability to learn and your cognitive processing functions.

Plus, another surprising red wine health benefit is its ability to potentially lower the risk of dementia, a group of conditions that impact memory function (usually in older age). "Studies show that red wine consumption can reduce the risk of having dementia, which often leads to Alzheimer's disease," says nutritionist Sally Stevens, RDN. The key, though, is drinking red wine in moderation, as heavier consumption can actually increase the risk. So it's best to cap your intake around the recommended 5-ounce glass per day.

03 of 07

Red wine can cut cancer risk.

Recent studies are emerging that point to red wine as potentially having the ability to reduce cancer risk by preventing the growth of cancerous cells, particularly those associated with breast cancer and esophageal cancer. That's because resveratrol, a polyphenol in grape skin can actually kill cancer cells, according to cancer researchers.

The polyphenol helps starve cancer cells by blocking development of a key protein that feeds them. "Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that can be found in grape skin and red grape juice," Stevens explains. "Antioxidants help the body fight off free radicals that can damage our cells and organs."

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04 of 07

It improves heart health.

One of the most celebrated red wine benefits is its ability to potentially improve heart health. Consuming foods and beverages rich in polyphenols, such as red wine, has long been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Red wine has the power to protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart while also boosting HDL, or "good" cholesterol that helps your body flush out bad cholesterol. (Bad cholesterol can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.) "Drinking wine may help in decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol," Stevens says. "[High LDL] may cause artery damage."

05 of 07

Red wine promotes eye health.

Red wine health benefits go even further, thanks to resveratrol once again. With vascular-enhancing properties, red wine may improve microcirculation in the eye. This process can help prevent eye-related issues such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, all of which contribute to vision loss.

06 of 07

It maintains dental health.

Emerging studies show that red wine may keep your mouth healthy. New data suggests red wine—specifically those beneficial polyphenols we've talked about so much—can actually fight off harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. By preventing the bacteria from sticking to teeth and gums, red wine essentially stops it from causing things like cavities or plaque.

RELATED: Why Natural Wine Isn't Always the Healthiest (or Tastiest) Option

07 of 07

Red wine helps fight off viruses.

Keeping our immune systems strong against viruses is incredibly important, and red wine may have yet another promising perk in this department. One of its benefits includes immune-boosting properties, thanks to its antioxidant content. "Wine contains high levels of antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, which can combat viruses," Stevens says.

Red wine may also boost your microbiome, or healthy gut bacteria. A healthy microbiome can prevent disease development, while an unhealthy microbiome can decrease your immune function, making you more susceptible to getting sick.

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