The health benefits of a moderate consumption of red wine have been well documented. A daily glass of red wine for women and one to two glasses for men reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In addition, a daily glass or two of red wine reduces stress and has been proven to reduce mortality.
A chemical reaction to red wine accounts for the health benefits. Antioxidants in wine reduce inflammation and inhibit cholesterol buildup in the walls of arteries. Antioxidants also protect cells by reducing the damage of the body’s free radicals.
A new study has found that white wine has health benefits similar to those of red wine. This information is good news for those of us (including me) who cannot drink red wine without triggering headaches (including migraines) or asthma attacks.
In the past, sulfites have been blamed for these reactions. But today’s research suggests that the histamine in red wine may be the culprit. Red wine is made from the entire crushed grape, including the skin, which contains histamine. In contrast, white wine is made using only the pulp of the grape. Consequently, red wine contains 20 to 200 times more histamine than white wine does. The concentrated histamine found in red wine can trigger a headache or asthma attack in sensitive individuals.
Dipak Das, a molecular biologist at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, writes in the October 13, 2008, edition of the New Scientist journal (“Break Out the Bubbly: White Wine May Be Good for You”) that in terms of health benefits, "The flesh of the grape can do the same job as the skin."
Supporting Dr. Das’s claim is a second report from Dr. Philip Norrie, an Australian family physician and winemaker. Dr. Norrie cites seven researchers who assert that there are no significant differences in health benefits between red and white wine. Dr. Norrie advises us not to be distracted by whether one or the other is better for our health but rather to focus our attention on moderation.
Those of us who have suffered a headache or asthma attack after imbibing a glass of red wine will be relieved to know that we can enjoy the same health benefits with a glass of white wine. Join me in toasting the good news!
"Religions change; beer and wine remain." Hervey Allen