By Valérie Hill. Discover The Swiss vineyards and fine wines 2013
Wine is the most ancient documented man-made medicine; as far back as 2200 BC, tablets from Sumerian culture and papyri from Ancient Egypt describe recipes for wine-based medicines. For many centuries, faced with the lack of safe drinking water, wine was recommended as a alternative. It was also prescribed as an antiseptic for treating wounds, a digestive aid and a cure for a wide range of ailments from lethargy and diarrhoea to easing the pain of childbirth.
Things changed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The medical establishment defined alcoholism as a disease and, after studying the long and short-term effects of alcohol, reconsidered the beneficial role of wine in medicine and diet.
In the 1990s, however, the pendulum swung back, and after analysing the French paradox – lower occurrence of cardiovascular disease among French people than their British and American counterparts despite equally high fat/high dairy diets – the medical community concluded that moderate consumption of wine (that is one to two 1-dl glasses of wine a day), particularly red wine, provided a number of health benefits.
Wine drinkers have a 34% lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers (source: a Finnish study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007).
Reduces Risk of Heart Attack
Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30% less likely to have a heart attack than non-drinkers (source: a 16-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 11,711 men, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007).
Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France have more procyanidins than other wines (source: a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006).
Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Moderate drinkers have 30% less risk than non-drinkers of developing type 2 diabetes (source: research on 369,862 individuals studied over an average of 12 years each, at Amsterdam's VU University Medical Centre, published in Diabetes Care, 2005).
Lowers Risk of Stroke
The possibility of suffering a blood clot-related stroke drops by about 50% in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol (source: a Columbia University study of 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, published in Stroke, 2006).
Cuts Risk of Cataracts
Moderate drinkers are 32% less likely to get cataracts than non-drinkers; those who consume wine are 43% less likely to develop cataracts than those drinking mainly beer (source: a study of 1,379 individuals in Iceland, published in Nature, 2003).
Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer
Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45% (source: a Stony Brook University study of 2,291 individuals over a four-year period, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005).
Slows Brain Decline
Brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in non-drinkers than in moderate drinkers (source: a Columbia University study of 1,416 people, published in Neuroepidemiology, 2006).
Quoted from “8 Health Benefits of Drinking Wine” by Christine Quinlan, www.foodandwine.com, October 2007.