While many of us may enjoy a glass of wine to mark the end of a day, there are both positives and negatives to wine. "I would say that if someone doesn't drink wine, there isn't a good enough reason to start drinking wine for the health benefits, as you can obtain the same benefits of wine without consuming alcohol," says Alix Turoff, a registered dietitian and nutritionist.
Wine contains compounds that may be helpful for the heart (resveratrol), and drinking wine can help you relax and control stress. It helps us get social, and there's lots of benefits to connecting with others — lots to cheer about! "But you may need to keep an eye of how often you toast . . . wine can also decrease your defenses, and if you drink too much, it could cause you to not care very much about how much you eat or what you're choosing. You may have had good intentions of not reaching for that bread basket before dinner, but a few glasses at the bar while waiting for your table may change your mind!" says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You From Label to Table.
Red wine contains resveratrol, which is a polyphenol that is found in the skins of grapes that works very similar to antioxidants by reducing oxidative damage in the body caused by things like pollution, poor diet, sun, smoking, etc. However, "The resveratrol content in one glass of wine isn't really high enough to do have any significant benefits that you couldn't better obtain by eating a cup of blueberries. Studies show that moderate wine drinkers tend to live longer, have better lipid profiles (cholesterol numbers), and lower cardiovascular disease risk than non-drinkers," says Turoff. "This might be due to the fact that a glass of wine or two lowers stress, leading drinkers to live a more enjoyable life."
From a weight and diet perspective, a five-ounce glass of wine is about 125 calories (one ounce of wine is, give or take, 25 calories, depending on how sweet it is and the alcohol content). "A big misconception is that wine is very high in carbs, but on the contrary, a five-ounce glass of wine will have only about four grams of carbohydrates," Turoff says. "However, when we drink alcohol, our body prioritizes the metabolism of the alcohol, so anything we're eating with that alcohol is put on the back burner, and when we pair our alcohol with carbohydrates, those carbohydrates will very often be converted to fat," Turoff says.
To minimize the amount of carbohydrates that are converted into fat when drinking alcohol, try to pair your wine with a higher protein/fat meal instead of carbohydrate.
So, wine has its good and bad aspects, ultimately meaning our best way to go is enjoying it — but always in moderation. Too much of anything, especially alcohol, is not a good thing for our weight or our health.