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How much red wine produces the maximum health benefits?

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Louisianans rejoice! Alcohol is good for you. But here's the fine print: The health benefits of alcohol only apply when it is consumed in relatively small quantities. Partaking in an overabundance of alcoholic beverages, red wine or otherwise, can cause much more harm than good.

However, it is generally agreed that drinking in moderation, which is defined by the American Heart Association as one drink a day for women and two drinks for men, can have positive effects on heart health. A small amount of ethanol, a component of alcohol, is thought to help lower cholesterol, improve HDL (or good cholesterol), and reduce the formation of blood clots.

However, one person's glass might be another's carafe. To enjoy the benefits a drink can offer, one glass is 1-1/2 fluid ounces (fl. oz.) of liquor such as vodka, gin or bourbon, 4 fl oz of wine or 12 fl. Oz. of beer.

In addition to the positive effects of the ethanol in red wine, wine may have even more health benefits because it contains antioxidants. In animal studies the antioxidant resveratrol, which can also be found in red grapes, blueberries, cranberries and peanuts, indicates that it may help protect against obesity, diabetes, inflammation and blood clotting. Unfortunately, the amount of resevartol used to produce heart healthy benefits in mice studies, when equated in human terms, would mean you would have to drink between 100 and 1,000 bottles of red wine a day to get the same effect. So, while red wine and other alcohols do have their place is the echelon of heart-healthy living choices, everything in moderation is still the best motto.

For information contact Dr. Clevis Parker at EJGH Internal Medicine at 504-456-512, or go to www.ejgh.org.

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