Italians say, “Io bevo vino” or “I drink wine.” And they just might be onto something. Studies show that people who have a healthy* relationship with alcohol, enjoying a daily glass of wine, beer, or spirits, may reap some health benefits from doing so. Healthy centenarians in Sardinia, Italy, drink a glass of red wine with each meal, and when they gather with friends. People in Okinawa, Japan (another Blue Zones® area), have a daily glass of sake with friends.
Residents living in the original Blue Zones areas share common principles called Power 9®—and Wine @ Five is one of these lifestyle behaviors that has helped them live longer, healthier, happier lives.
A Drink a Day Means Healthy Flavanoids
Red wine isn’t the only source of healthy antioxidants called flavonoids. You can also find flavonoids in brightly colored fruits and veggies, and in dark chocolate. Studies show that a diet high in healthy flavonoids may be linked to a reduced risk of some cancers and heart disease.
Studies point to the health benefits that a daily drink of beer, wine, or spirits may offer. Blue Zones researchers believe the key to experiencing these benefits lies in consistency and moderation. Enjoying a daily alcoholic beverage has been associated with lower rates of heart disease, as well as a reduction in stress and chronic inflammation. On the other hand, alcohol use has also been shown to increase risk of breast cancer in women.
Red, Red Wine
Red wine in particular seems to offer heart-healthy benefits. The antioxidants it contains may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting the arteries. Cannonau grapes grown in Sardinia, Italy, produce more red pigment to protect themselves from the sun’s intense ultraviolet rays. As a result, Cannonau wine has higher concentrations of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. When possible, sip a glass of Cannonau wine. But keep in mind that when you have more than the recommended daily serving, alcohol can have a negative effect on the liver, brain, and other organs. In other words, it’s not ok to save up all week and then drink 10 glasses of wine on Saturday night. Consistency and moderation are key.
Blue Zones researchers found that the healthiest centenarians typically enjoy one alcoholic beverage per day. Not only does a daily drink confer some heart-health benefits, but it also offers people a chance to wind down and reconnect with friends and family after a busy day.
Establish time to unwind each day with a glass of wine, beer, or the beverage of your choice, some nuts to snack on, and good company. To set aside “Pau Hana” time with friends and family, feel free to use this handy, customizable invitation:
*We encourage you to drink responsibly. Only enjoy Wine @ Five if you have a healthy relationship with alcohol.
Mari-Ela Chock is the Statewide Engagement Lead for Blue Zones Project Hawaii.