A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Red or white wine? Consider this.

Struggling to decide if you want to pull a bottle of red or white wine out for dinner? If you can’t decide, perhaps these perspectives can help.

But first, remember, alcohol is only OK in moderation. That means no more than one drink for women and two for men daily.

Benefits of red wineIllustration - glass of red wine and glass of white wine - Experts at Heart

“A small amount of any alcohol may increase high density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol), thus decreasing the chance of developing heart attacks,” said Dr. Shereif Rezkalla, a Marshfield Clinic cardiologist who has studied the literature for data on drinks containing alcohol.

“A glass of red wine may have an additional benefit. That’s because red grapes contain antioxidants, such as resveratrol, that protect the heart from developing hardening of the arteries,” he said.

Rezkalla found no head-to-head comparisons of red and white wines in the medical literature, but the preponderance of evidence suggests red wine has an edge over white or other alcoholic drinks.

Comparing nutrients

Prevention, an American healthy lifestyle magazine, compared the two wine types from a nutritional standpoint, using the National Nutrient Database from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They pointed out that one glass, or five ounces of red wine, had 125 calories, compared to 121 for an equal serving of white wine. Both types tied for carbohydrates and calcium.

But red wine ran away from the white in other nutrients, with less sugar and more iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and choline, which helps prevent liver damage and reduces inflammation. Red wine also finished ahead in lutein and zeaxanthin, both carotenoids that promote eye health.

Who cares?

Of course, most people aren’t going to decide which to drink based on this type of information. But if you like both kinds of wine and are on the fence, maybe this could influence your decision.

“Apologies to lovers of sweet, white wine,” said Prevention, “but it just can’t compare to robust red with so many more minerals and less sugar.”

Regardless of type of wine, Rezkalla made one other important point for all of us to keep in mind.

“We must caution that this benefit may occur with very little drinking,” he said. “Any more than a small glass of wine may actually have a harmful effect.”

How much is too much? Find out the short answer.

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