It’s now generally accepted that drinking a glass or two of red wine can have health benefits. Moderate red wine consumption has been found to help prevent heart attacks, increase the amount of HDL "good" cholesterol and decrease the chances of blood clotting. Red wine also has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it can be helpful in reducing pain associated with some chronic conditions. Flavonoids, the antioxidant found in red wine, can help prevent cancer.
But what about white wine and champagne? Do these have any beneficial properties?
White wine has many of the same positive health benefits as red wine. It, too, contains flavonoids that have antioxidant properties, which can help prevent cancer. In fact, according to a study from the University of Barcelona, white wines may have a higher antioxidant capacity than red wines.
White wine also has the ability to protect the heart against aging, which can provide preventive benefits to the organ, though not all whites have the power to do so. According to research from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, only one of three white wines tested provided a significant boost of protection to the heart, while the other two tested (labeled only as "white wine #1" and "white wine #3") did not improve ventricular recovery, which reflects anti-aging properties.
In addition, white wine could be beneficial towards achieving weight loss, according to a 2004 study from the University of Hohenheim (Germany). The study found that patients interested in losing weight and on a calorie-restricted diet may benefit from drinking white wine. A diet with 10 percent of energy derived from white wine was found to be as effective in assisting weight loss as a diet with 10 percent of energy derived from juices--plus the additional benefits from consuming wine.
Speaking of weight loss, champagne may be the alcoholic beverage to turn to if someone is looking to lose weight, as it is generally lower in calories than red wine, white wine or beer. However, that is not all that champagne brings to the table. Like red and white wines, champagne has heart-healthy properties, as discovered in a recent University of Reading (U.K.) study. Researchers found that, like red wine, champagne has a positive effect on endothelial function, a strong indicator of heart disease. The study results indicate that daily moderate consumption of champagne may improve vascular performance.
Beyond the heart, champagne could benefit your brain as well. Three glasses a week of bubbly could help prevent brain disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to the Reading study. It found that certain black grape varieties used in champagne can aid memory via a compound called phenolic acid. The researchers recommend that people drink two to three glasses of champagne a week, starting after the age of 40 to help stave off dementia.
Of course, all of these benefits come with caveats. First, though alcohol consumption can have some benefits, all of these studies indicate moderate consumption – not heavy consumption. In many cases, drinking too much can not only counteract the benefits one would receive, but it may, in fact, make things worse in the long run.
The other problem may be with some of the studies themselves. As reported on HealthCentral previously, a few studies would require an inconceivable amount of consumption in order to gain the supposed benefits of resveratrol, for example. Likewise, where alcohol has been proven to assist in weight loss, mice were fed different diets that may not necessarily isolate the wine as the catalyst for weight loss.
Still, there’s growing evidence in favor of moderate alcohol consumption--regardless of whether it is red wine, white wine or champagne.