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Wine & Your Bones: Surprising Health Benefits
You may already revel in the fact that red wine is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps protect against strokes and inhibits the growth of cancer cells. But did you know moderate consumption of wine or beer can help protect bones?
(Plus, keep reading for great grape ideas for non-alcoholic beverages including grape smoothies and peanut butter-and-jelly sippers.)
Bones become more porous and vulnerable to breakage as people age, and a study by a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell found that moderate beer and wine drinking is associated with greater bone mineral density in men and older women.
Researchers in the United States and Europe believe silicon, a mineral predominant in beer, may confer the bone boost, but they haven’t figured out why wine drinkers (who don’t drink beer) also enjoy the osteo-perk. Hard liquor is not associated with better bone health which means the bone benefits probably don’t derive from ethanol (alcohol) but rather, some other substance that’s in beer and wine.
Researchers believe red wine strengthens the lining of the vessels in the heart and also increases the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol that protects arteries from damage. Resveratrol and other antioxidant flavonoids in wine and beer are believed to prevent the kind of inflammation that leads to strokes, cancer and diabetes. Moderate alcohol consumption also helps prevent blood clots and cholesterol from building up in the arteries (thus preventing strokes and heart disease) through a mechanism that’s not entirely known.
The "Right" Amount
But as Goldilocks might warn: Moderation is key
So how much is just right? Though it differs slightly depending on your age and gender, several studies suggest one or two drinks a day, three of four times a week as healthy. More than two drinks a day is too much. (One drink = 4 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer.)
Doctors warn against slipping into excessive drinking. Alcoholism can trigger myriad health and social problems including addiction, breast cancer and liver damage. And in the bone study, men who drank more than two beers a day actually had lower bone density and more fractures than non-drinkers.
Non-alcoholic Grape Smoothies
Of course, you can skip the alcohol altogether and load up on grapes’ good-for-you flavonoids with other fun beverages. Loaded with antioxidants that help protect your heart and prevent cancer, grapes can grace your glass in many forms, not just fermented as wine.
Check out these great grape ideas:
- Grape-kale-carrot-pineapple smoothies
- Spinach and banana freeze garnished with red grapes
- Liquid peanut butter-and-jelly (swapping red grapes for jelly)