Q: My New Year's resolution is to lead a healthier lifestyle, eat better and be happy as I do it. Is there any room for wine in my lifestyle?—Maria, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
A: Wine can absolutely be part of a healthy lifestyle, along with eating well and exercising. Unlike soda and sugary fruit juices, which are almost never a good idea for those keeping a balanced diet, wine has been shown to have a range of beneficial effects in individuals who drink it moderately.In fact, some of the latest news about wine's health benefits focus specifically on women. A recently published study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology analyzed the lifestyle habits and health outcomes of nearly 70,000 women over a 20-year period. They identified six "healthy lifestyle factors," and found that women who followed all six of them were significantly more likely to remain healthy over time. Indeed, 73 percent of the coronary heart disease cases, and 46 percent of cardiovascular disease incidences, could have been avoided by practicing the healthy behaviors. So what constituted a healthy lifestyle, according to the study? Moderate alcohol consumption was one factor; up to one drink per day, on average, was shown to lead to healthy outcomes. The other five behaviors were not smoking, maintaining a low body mass index, engaging in at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, watching no more than seven hours of television per week, and eating a healthy and balanced diet. These findings bolster the argument that that glass of wine with dinner may be providing more than just a momentary feeling of well being!