It's long been known
that drinking a glass of red wine a day can be beneficial for
your heart. A new study now says that light alcohol consumption may
be good for a woman's waistline.
A study published
recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who
drank alcohol in moderation put on less weight and were less apt to
become overweight compared to nondrinkers. This was true,
researchers said, even after accounting for lifestyle and dietary factors
that might influence a woman's weight.
The study found
that red wine seemed the best at keeping weight in check, but
white wine, beer and spirts also showed some benefits.
How Alcohol Helps Your Heart
have shown that moderate amounts of alcohol, not just red wine,
benefit your heart.
"Moderate amounts of alcohol can
raise your good, or HDL, cholesterol and thins your blood," said
Samantha Plasner, DO, a family practitioner on staff at Lourdes Medical
Center of Burlington County. "For a woman, that's no more than
one 5-ounce glass of wine per day."
Red wine is thought
to be particularly heart healthy because it contains
phytochemicals, such as flavanoids and a substance called resveratrol, that act
as antioxidants and prevent "free radical" molecules from causing
cellular damage in the body.
Researchers believe that
resveratrol may be the key ingredient in red wine that
helps prevent damage to blood vessels. Studies have shown that
resveratrol prevents blood clotting and plaque formation in the
arteries, and may produce anti-thrombotic agents that could
reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease. However, all
of the studies involved animals, not people, and would
require high consumption red wine a day.
The study followed 20,000 women who
were at least 39 years old. Two-thirds said they did not drink or
drank little. Twenty percent stated they consumed one drink a day,
while the remainder said they drank two or three alcoholic
Over the 13-year period, the women who did
not drink gained an average of 8 pounds compared with 3.4 pounds
for those who consumed two or three drinks a day. In addition, the
teetotalers had a 43 percent chance of becoming overweight, compared to 33 percent for the heavy
Researchers said the heavy drinkers tended to be more
physically active, weighed less at the outset and were more apt to
be smokers. However, other factors seemed to have a stronger
influence, such as the women who consumed more alcohol ate less,
Dr. Plasner warned that women should not rush out to buy red
wine if they don't normally consume alcohol. While women are less
likely than men to become alcoholics, they often require less
alcohol for impairment. In addition, women are more likely than men
to develop alcoholic liver disease.
"Wine can have many
downsides. It elevates triglyceride levels, which increases risk
for diabetes. Studies also have shown alcohol can increase estrogen
levels and a woman's risk for breast cancer. Wine also can be a trigger for migraine
headaches," Dr. Plasner said. "And despite some studies, alcohol
contains empty calories and can lead to weight gain when consumed in
"If you have questions about whether a glass of
wine with dinner is best for your health, consult your doctor,"