When most people hear for the first time that red wine has health benefits, they are understandably astonished. After all, imbibing is something that is secretly tolerated as much as it is demonized by much of society. And the truth is that over-consumption of alcohol can not only veer dangerously toward addiction – it can also lead to serious health concerns. So why is red wine suddenly off the naughty list? Essentially, researchers have discovered that it has some properties which, in the proper doses, can be beneficial to health. And naturally, you want to maximize those benefits. In order to do this there are a few things you need to understand.

The first thing you need to know if you want to optimize the health impact of red wine is how much you can have. With alcohol there is a very fine line between drinking in moderation and requiring an intervention, and researchers have apparently defined that line. Women may safely consume one serving of red wine each day while men can have 1-2 servings a day for optimum health benefits. One serving is four ounces of red wine. For reference, most restaurants serve 5-6 ounces of wine when you order a glass, which amounts to approximately four glasses per bottle of wine. But at home, you can easily measure out a smaller serving size to stay within healthy parameters.

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So now that you know how red wine constitutes a moderate daily amount, you should understand a bit more about the benefits you stand to gain and how red wine differs from other types of alcohol that aren’t considered to have health benefits. Red wine is special in that it contains a variety of antioxidants known as flavonoids, as well as a substance called resveratrol. These components work to keep you healthy in a few ways. The antioxidants in red wine can help to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL, or low density lipoprotein) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL, or high density lipoprotein). And resveratrol acts to stop harmful clotting that can lead to plaque buildup on the artery walls. In short, red wine can reduce your risk of heart disease, including outcomes like heart attack and stroke, when paired with proper diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices.

However, it does a lot more than that. Although more research needs to be done to assess the quantitative results of some benefits of red wine, it has been shown to protect against cell damage by killing off free radicals that attack cells. This, in turn, could prove effective at curbing ailments from certain cancers, to chronic diseases, to Alzheimer’s. It may not deliver these astonishing results for everyone, but when consumed in moderation, there is potential for greater health and longevity, especially over time.

Red wine is not a cure-all, and there is some conflicting research published on the subject of maximizing red wine benefits. But if you already like to enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, the good news is that you can keep buying your favorite vintages at your local Luekens Liquors. It seems that you’ll do more good than harm by consuming this tasty adult beverage in moderation.