The Three Biggest Health Myths in Wine (by Jennifer Fiedler)

Posted: February 2, 2013 by wynmaker in Research, Wine, World wine news
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Of all the health-related questions that end up in the Wine Spectator electronic mailbag, some get asked with a you-can-set-your-watch-by-it type of regularity. We’ve answered them before, and we’ll answer them again, but I thought I’d address these topics here with the help of Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, professor of enology at the University of California at Davis, to weigh in on the three most enduring topics.

Health Myth No. 1: Wine contains a lot of sugar

It’s easy to see where this theory may have started. Grapes have sugar. Wine is made from grapes. Therefore, all wine has sugar? Not so. “If a wine is considered dry, the amount of sugar consumed is quite small,” said Waterhouse. The fermentation process for dry wines eliminates almost all the sugar and converts it to alcohol.

Let’s go to the data: The USDA Nutrition Database lists the amount of sugar in a 5-ounce serving of red table wine at just 0.91 grams. Not to pick on orange juice, but an average 8-ounce serving of the stuff contains 20.9 grams of sugar, so 5 ounces of orange juice contains nearly 14 times as much sugar as the same amount of dry red wine.

However, if you’re a diabetic looking to understand how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels, that’s an entirely different question complicated by the rest of your diet, activity levels and insulin therapy. Even medical practitioners have divided outlooks here: Waterhouse pointed out that in the United States, the convention has been to discourage diabetic patients from drinking, but not so in the United Kingdom. (Recent research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption, which can temporarily lower blood sugar levels, is associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes.) If you’re concerned about how wine affects your blood sugar levels, you should talk to your doctor to find the best approach for you.

Health Myth No. 2: Sulfites in wine cause headaches

Read on …
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