Q: Is it true that you should drink wine with meals to get the best health benefits? —Audrey
A: First, the caveat: there are differing points of view about why drinking wine appears to confer health benefits, and the short answer to your question is that until we have more conclusive research, it is too soon to tell. Some believe that health benefits are derived on a cellular level, meaning the polyphenols and the ethanol (alcohol) in the wine are absorbed and affect individual cells and therefore it wouldn't matter when you chose to consume wine, only that you did so (in a moderate fashion).
Others, such as Katherine Tallmadge, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, believe that the timing of consumption is key. We spoke with her regarding your question and she said that wine should always be consumed with meals: "It's a very important point. When you're eating, your body is going through stress and forming oxidants that are eventually what causes disease. Wine has these anti-oxidants and beneficial compounds that help neutralize the negative effects of digestion and of any not-so-healthy foods you're eating." Additionally, drinking wine with meals is thought to improve digestion (read the report in this newsletter, above). The rate and the circumstances under which one consumes wine will affect the way that alcohol is absorbed in the body, as well as one's blood sugar levels. If blood sugar is something that is of concern to you, you should work out a plan that is right for you with your doctor.
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