Yes, you read that correctly, drinking red wine is reported to offer some health benefits that could lead to a longer life, according to a recent study. And might even be better for your waistline and fitness than spirits and beer. The study, published in the Obesity Science & Practice journal, wanted to examine the effects various alcohols had on body composition in older white adults.
The researchers agreed that “aging is characterized by body composition alterations, including increased visceral adiposity accumulation and bone loss.” and that “alcohol consumption may partially drive these alterations, but findings are mixed.”
As a quick biology lesson, visceral fat is, according to Healthline, “a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity and is located near several vital organs including the liver, stomach and intestines.”
“It is sometimes referred to as ‘active fat’ because it can actively increase the risk of several health problems.”
The bottom line? You want to keep your levels of visceral fat to a minimum. Visceral fat is different to subcutaneous fat, which is the type we more commonly refer to as body fat.
As for the related health problems, the researchers of the recent study added that high levels of body fat (all types) “has been consistently linked to an increased risk of acquiring many different diseases, including cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and a higher risk of death.”
Alochol is often associated with increased levels of weight gain, although it will naturally depend on which type you drink and how much of it you drink. It’s common for those looking to shred or keep their weight gain to a minimum when exercising, to opt for spirits, such as vodka or gin, mixed with soda water and lime.
Adam Sullivan of Evidence Based Training – a man who recently shut down the protein supplements industry – says that a shot of alcohol contains just under 100 calories. It’s the mixers you add to it than cause the number of calories to skyrocket. He ultimately says that no matter what alcohol you drink, if you remain in a calorie deficit when including your food intake, then you will still lose weight. It’s all about balance. You can watch that video here.
But, while that premise may be related specifically to weight gain and weight loss, Adam’s comments don’t necessarily factor in other health-related problems from drinking alcohol, nor do they factor in age-related factors.
It’s these that this new study – conducted by Brittany Larsen – aimed to answer.
To help prove or disprove those findings, the researchers analysed and assessed data from the U.K. Biobank database, using self-reported data from 1,869 white adults aged between 40 and 79.
To determine each participants’ body composition, they had to use a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. This method not only measures body composition, i.e. fat levels, but also bone density. It is also one of the only ways of measuring levels of visceral fat.
The study ultimately found that “greater beer/spirit consumptions were associated with greater visceral adiposity.”
And, the good news, “drinking more red wine was associated with less visceral adipose mass.”
So, just like a fine red wine ages well, so may you if you switch out beer and spirits (for wine) as you approach older age.
White wine, meanwhile, didn’t seem to influence levels of visceral fat (so could also be a good option for your regular drink). The researchers found that white wine resulted in “greater bone density.”
“We found higher bone density among older adults who drank white wine in moderation in our study. And we did not find this same link between beer or red wine consumption and bone mineral density,” Brittany Larsen added in an article published in The Conversation.
The researchers did add and admit that other environmental and dietary factors can also lead to, or prevent, various health problems, but their study at least shines an encouraging light on the benefits of red wine in particular.