Cheers to Good Health

The Health Benefits of Red Wine

Housewives across the country like to espouse the health benefits of red wine, usually with a glass in their hand and a smile on their face. But as with most teachings that fall from the mouths of mothers, this one’s right too.

Take it from Western North Carolina’s resident wine expert, Chuck Blethen. Not only is Chuck proprietor of Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard alongside his wife Jeannie (Jewel of the Blue Ridge is known for their propagation of a cold-hardy muscadine), he’s also the Vice President of Public Relations for French Broad Vignerons and a member of the Board of Directors for the NC Muscadine Grape Association. Add to that his weekly radio show, Marshall Mountain Grapevine, and countless lectures on the subject, and Chuck is genuinely our mountains’ wine man. And according to Chuck, red wine really is healthy. Here’s why.

One of the main components of grapes are flavonoids, which are a natural anti-inflammatory. They can also reduce the risk of sclerosis and damage from low-density cholesterol.

Grapes are a great source of potassium. High intakes of potassium can reduce the risk of stroke and prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density.

Grapes also have lots of fiber, which is great for digestion and can reduce the risk of hemorrhoids.

The high quantities of Vitamin K in grapes can help keep bones strong, preventing breaks and fractures.

But the true hero of the purple fruit is resveratrol. Found in the skin of grapes, resveratrol is an antioxidant powerhouse. The benefits of resveratrol are seemingly endless, and include:
■ Inhibits breast cancer growth.
■ Protects the skin and prevents skin cancer.
■ Reduces or slows the spread of mouth, pancreatic and prostate cancer.
■ It’s an anti-inflammatory, so it can combat heart disease.
■ Effectively treats acne.
■ Beneficial in treating Alzheimers, as well as hot flashes and mood wings with menopause.
■ Can protect the brain’s function with age, and the body during chemotherapy and radiation.
■ Aids in weight loss.
■ It’s even used in sports medicine for muscle recovery.
Because it’s found in the skins of grapes, the health benefits of resveratrol are only accessible through drinking the dark stuff. Interestingly enough, the higher altitude at which the grapes are grown and the thicker their skins grow, the more resveratrol you’ll find in the grapes. And even more interestingly, our native muscadines hold 40 to 50 percent more resveratrol than regular grapes. Because most regional growers don’t use a lot of chemicals, they appease the natural product association and local drinkers alike. So raise your glass of muscadine wine and make a toast to good health and good, local wine!