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News / Health

Businesses tout wine’s health benefits

Medical experts note it’s an antioxidant, relieves stress

By Cindy Krischer Goodman, Sun Sentinel
Published: May 6, 2019, 6:00am

On a Friday afternoon, Yvette Vezina settles into her hairstylist’s chair at Tipsy Salonbar in Plantation, Fla., to get coloring, and to indulge in a cold glass of pinot grigio.

“Drinking wine is relaxing,” Vezina said. “I really enjoy it.”

At Tipsy Nailbar and Salon in Plantation, manager Duke Hoang offers an extensive menu of wine choices to customers as they have their fingernails polished and hair cut.

“Our customers love to drink their wine and get comfortable,” said Hoang, whose salon goes through about 20 bottles a week.

Wine is a popular alcohol choice with American consumers, particularly women who make up about 60 percent of wine sales, according to the Wine Market Council. In 2018, wine consumption rose again year over year — as it has since 1993 — with drinkers imbibing more than 750 million gallons of wine, according to The State of the Wine Industry 2019 report.

But industry experts are cautioning wine sales could taper off going forward, unless millennials — the next generation of wine drinkers — buy into the positive health messaging.

So how healthy is wine?

“It’s an antioxidant,” said Dr. John Rivas, a board-certified liver specialist in Hollywood. “We have a big-time epidemic of fatty liver disease in this country with supersized foods and a lot of calories from fat. Wine actually helps protect the liver from inflammation caused by fat.”

Rivas said the health benefits depend on moderation in drinking — no more than two glasses of wine a day. “You want to drink enough that you are getting the antioxidant properties, but not enough that it ends up causing damage.”

Beyond benefiting the liver, moderate wine drinking is linked with a longer life span. In a study published in 2018 of 1,600 people age 90 and older, University of California, Irvine, professor and researcher Dr. Claudia Kawas found drinking wine regularly was associated with 18 percent reduced risk of premature death. “It did not necessarily have to be daily,” Kawas said. “It just had to be sometimes.”

And while wine could affect longevity, it may also help with mental health as people age. A 2011 Loyola University Medical Center study of the older population, looking at data from 19 nations, found a lower risk of dementia among regular, moderate red wine drinkers in 14 countries.

Vezina, who says South Florida’s warm climate makes a cold, white wine enticing, wonders if she should be drinking red — or if the stress relief of relaxing at the salon with a pinot grigio is benefit enough.

“There are absolutely benefits in terms of stress relief,” said Dr. Kashmira Bhadha, medical director for women’s cardiac health at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. “That is one factor as far as cardiovascular benefits go, but only if you’re drinking in extreme moderation.”

Scientists have found red and white wines both contain resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of grapes, that has been tied to improved heart and blood health. Red wine, however, has more resveratrol.