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Wine and Health



Wine and Health

“Wine is at the head of all medicines” - Bava Basra, 58b
“Old wine is good for the stomach” - Berachos, 51a

Rambam (Maimonides) wrote 800 years ago: “It was well-known among physicians that the best of the nourishing foods is one that the Muslim religion forbids, i.e. wine: it is rapidly-digested and helps digest other foods; the benefits of wine are many if taken in proper amounts, as it keeps the body in a healthy condition and cures many illnesses.”

Certainly Rambam was referring to the right amounts of wine and at the right times. I believe this is a fine example of using wine in a kosher way.

Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates recommended wine to relieve fevers, disinfect wounds, supplement nutrition, and much more. It is said that in the 19th century European wine drinkers escaped the ravages of cholera. It is believed because the wine destroyed the bacteria which caused the disease.

Today the claims and research continue: It may reduce: cholesterol; the risk of heart disease; the risk of diabetes; loss of bone mass; and more. It may even increase longevity.

French Paradox

The famous “French Paradox,” is an apparent enigma made famous by a 1991 CBS story on how the French outlive Americans with a diet based on saturated fats, rich cooking, French pastry, and non-filtered cigarettes. The magic elixir was, of course, wine; and so the consumption of wine in America immediately grew by 30%. Many cultures, including Greeks, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, Chileans, and others are said to have “gusto for life” and include a regular consumption of wine in their diet.

Resaarch has shown positive impact on:
Nutrition, Diabetes, Bone Mass, Cancer, Food Poisoning, Digestion, HDL Cholesterol, Memory
Lean Body Mass, Longevity, Nonflavonoids, Flavonoids, Heart Disease and more.


These antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, including oranges, apples, onions, tea and cocoa. Other types of alcohol, such as white wine and beer, contain small amounts, too, but red wine has higher levels.


These antioxidants found in red wine have recently been of particular interest because they appear to help prevent arteries from becoming clogged with fatty blockages. However, these studies have so far mostly involved mice, not humans.

Resveratrol in red wine

Resveratrol is the nonflavonoid in which the researchers have the greatest interest. Some researchers believe that Resveratrol might be the key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels reduces "bad" cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, has been suggested as one way to get Resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Some studies have suggested that red and purple grape juices have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.

Other foods that contain some Resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It's not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of Resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.

One study, published in the 2004 year-end edition of the American Journal of Physiology, indicates that Resveratrol also inhibits formation of a protein that produces a condition called cardio fibrosis, which reduces the heart's pumping efficiency when it is needed most, at times of stress.


A Harvard study of factors that influence aging, as reported in the May 8, 2003, issue of the journal Nature, has shown that Resveratrol extends the life span of yeast cells by 80%. Preliminary results of tests on multi cellular animals are said to be encouraging; study co-author David Sinclair told Reuters News Agency that "Not many people know about it yet, but those who do have almost invariably changed their drinking habits, that is, they drink more red wine."

Lean Body Mass

Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally. Moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Alcohol may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass. Beer seems to have a similar effect.


Wine might even preserve cognitive function in the elderly. Several European studies have shown the prophylactic effects of regular light to moderate alcohol consumption may include the prevention or postponement of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other forms of dementia. Could wine be the original brain food?

There is other research that suggests wine could preserve your memory. When researchers gave memory quizzes to women in their 70s, those who drank one glass or more every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all. Wine helps reduce blood vessel inflammation, which has been linked to cognitive decline.

HDL Cholesterol

Wine seems to raise HDL the good cholesterol, which helps unclog your arteries

A study published in January, 2003, in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that moderate, regular consumption of wine or beer decreases the risk of peptic ulcers and may help to rid the body of the bacteria suspected of causing them. Interestingly, both over-consumption, especially of beer, and any regular consumption of spirits at all, even at a low level, seemed to increase the ulcer risks.

The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a 14-year study of over 100,000 women, aged 25 to 42, from 14 states. The Nurses’ Health Study required participants to complete a questionnaire every two years, detailing lifestyle choices and diagnoses of any medical conditions. The subjects were categorized into three levels of alcohol consumption. After factoring in such variables as family histories of diabetes and smoking habits, the study found that women who drank regularly and moderately (one or two drinks per day, a total of 15 to 30 grams of alcohol) had a 58% lower likelihood of developing diabetes. Both those levels that drank more or that drank less had a 20% lower risk than either abstainers or former drinkers. When preferences for types of alcohol were compared, those who chose beer and wine shared similar levels of risk, but those in who drank spirits and consumed more than 30 grams per day had a 150% higher risk to develop diabetes than even non-drinkers.

Food Poisoning
According to one Spanish study, as little as half a glass of wine may also guard against food poisoning caused by exposure to contaminated food or germs like salmonella.

Australian researchers recently compared women with ovarian cancer and cancer-free women. They reported that roughly one glass of wine a day seemed to reduce the risk of the disease by as much as 50 percent. Earlier research at the University of Hawaii produced similar findings. Experts suspect this may be due to antioxidants or phytoestrogens, which have high anticancer properties, in the wine.

In a recent University of Michigan study, a red wine compound helped kill ovarian cancer cells in a test tube. There is a British study that suggests that those who drink roughly a glass of wine a day reduced by 11 percent their risk of infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a major cause of gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancers.

Bone Mass

Alcohol appears to boost estrogen levels; the hormone seems to slow the body’s destruction of old bone more than it slows the production of new bone. On average, women who drink moderately seems to have higher bone mass than abstainers.


According to a 10-year study by Harvard Medical School premenopausal women who drink one or two glasses of wine a day are 40 percent less likely than women who don’t drink to develop type 2 diabetes. While the reasons aren’t clear, wine seems to reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients.


The nutritional content of wine is minimal. There is no fat, cholesterol, or dietary fiber in any wine. On the other hand, only with overindulgence would anyone reach their Minimum Daily Requirement for calories, carbohydrates, sodium, protein, vitamins or minerals, all of which all wines contain to some mostly insignificant degree. The specific content varies between types, depending upon color, alcoholic strength and residual sugar.

In contrast with most foods and beverages, regulations in the U.S. and most other countries do not require wine producers to disclose ingredient or nutritional labeling on wine, and the industry has strongly resisted any legislative efforts to change that.
Accordingly, there's no way (other than asking the winery, which is under no obligation to respond) to determine the exact nutritional analysis of a specific wine.
Nutritional analysis follows for typical dry red white and sweet desert wine and is presented in the familiar nutritional label form.

Please note they represent no wine in particular but rather present an example what a typical wine in the category might look like. Specific bottles will vary widely with sugar, alcohol, calories or other attributes.

Last but not least!

To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine and those who don't. As Ben Franklin said: “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.”

In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) bacteria found in feces.

However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or other liquor) because it has gone through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting . Besides ethanol is an effective antiseptic. Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health.

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of sheptic bacteria.