It’s Friday night and all you want to do is curl up on your couch with a nice glass of red wine. You’ve worked hard this week and deserve to have a drink. In fact, most people say a glass of wine is healthy, right?

There is much debate about the merits of wine and its impact on one’s health. Though there are reasons one could argue that wine is good for us (i.e. antioxidants), no matter how much wine you consume, you still expose yourself to certain health-related concerns:

Added Sugars

Depending on the kind of wine you typically purchase, you may be drinking nearly half of your daily sugar intake in just one glass of wine. According to the American Heart Institute, men should only be consuming 37g of sugar daily, while women should only consume 25g. If you prefer sweet wines, you could be consuming more than 10g of sugar in one single glass.

Arsenic

In March of last year, California winemakers were sued over high levels of arsenic found in their wines. Some of the most popular wines were showing arsenic levels of up to 4 or 5 times greater than what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows in drinking water. A study performed by a Denver laboratory called BeverageGrades showed that of 1300 wine bottles tested, nearly a quarter had arsenic levels higher than drinking water. Even worse, the cheaper the wine, the more arsenic content it seemed to have. A high amount of arsenic is concerning, as arsenic has been linked to several cancers, liver and kidney damage, and a shortage of white and red blood cells leading to fatigue and higher risk of infection.

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Sulfites

Sulfites are a group of sulfur compounds typically used as a preservative and often used in wines. Although they help stop the wine from oxidizing, some people can also be sensitive to these sulfites (seen most commonly in those with asthma). Reactions to sulfites can range from nausea, heartburn and/or diarrhea, to changes in your heart rate or serious breathing problems that could require medical attention. Many people claim that the sulfites give them headaches as well.

But what if you still want to enjoy a glass of wine? Luckily there are things you can do to reduce the impact of some of these potential health concerns.

Pay attention to wine type for added sugars: Some wines have higher sugar content than others. By picking dry wines as opposed to sweet wines, you expose yourself to less added sugar. Steer clear from champagne and specialty wines if you’re watching your sugar intake.

Consider the size of your glass: It’s been proven that choosing smaller dishes and utensils influences us eat less food. The same logic is at play when you enjoy a glass of wine. Instead of grabbing a large, fishbowl shaped glass, try reaching for a smaller, more slender-shaped glass limiting how much you can drink. Likely you will feel just as satisfied, and will also have saved yourself a few calories!

Get rid of those sulfites: If you’re concerned about sulfite content in your wine, or find that you often experience headaches or brain-fog the following day, try purifying your wine. Products like Pure Wine and SO2GO are available and can be added to wine to reduce the level of sulfites. It works by using hydrogen peroxide to get rid of sulphur dioxide gas, while keeping the flavour of the wine in-tact. These are great alternatives for individuals with sulfite-sensitivities.

Use a decanter or beat your wine: Although this doesn’t combat any of the specific health concerns related to wine, it does make it taste better! By exposing the surface of the wine to more air, you increase the number of flavourful molecules that hit your tongue allowing you to experience the wine in a new and tastier way! In case you don’t have the patience for a decanter, Tim Ferriss introduced the idea of beating your wine with an immersion blender or high-speed blender for 20-30 seconds. You’ll notice the wine becomes frothy, but the head should go away after a few minutes. Voila – a tastier, more enjoyable wine!

References:

http://www.eater.com/2015/3/19/8258037/california-winemakers-sued-lawsuit-high-levels-arsenic-wine

http://www.diabetes.co.uk/alcohol-and-blood-sugar.html

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.VxQkN5MrJE4

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/intheworkplace/arsenic

http://www.livestrong.com/article/500629-are-sulfites-good-for-your-health/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16905035

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2011/12/18/hyperdecanting-wine/

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Kelly Agnew
Health Expert
A holistic nutritionist in the making, Kelly is a marketer by day and a wellness blogger + nutrition student by night. She is passionate about inspiring women to take control of their lives by balancing nutrition, exercise and general well-being. She shares her stories in hopes to inspire others to live holistically and fully.