What’s the Story on Red Wine and Dark Chocolate?
There is a controversy brewing in the world of science, with some experts claiming that red wine and dark chocolate are healthy bedfellows. Is that too good to be true? It all centres around one element: resveratrol.
Ageing and many diseases related to it start as tiny chain reactions in the body known as oxidation. Over time, oxidation leads to cell damage that makes you look and feel older. Resveratrol and other chemicals like it, known as antioxidants, stop the chain reaction before the cell damage happens.
Antioxidants, when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices like taking the right dietary supplements, may slow down ageing and improve your overall health. How does that translate into drinking more red wine and eating dark chocolate, though?
What Is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a natural phenol found in many plants. It’s an agent that allows the plant to fight off invasions by pathogens like bacteria or fungi. You get resveratrol from the skins of these berries:
It is also found in the cocoa beans used to make chocolate.
How Resveratrol Affects Health
Resveratrol is a protective agent, so it helps reduce the damage of oxidation, which occurs at the atomic level and involves the transfer of electrons. When an atom loses an electron due to environmental stresses or normal ageing, it’s kind of like leaving a door open. Antioxidants like resveratrol come and close that open door, putting the atom back in balance.
What this means for you is that eating foods or taking supplements high in antioxidants like resveratrol or vitamin C may help protect your cells against environmental damage and the natural ageing process.
The Benefits of Resveratrol
There is some evidence that resveratrol in red wine and dark chocolate may prevent damage to blood vessels and increase heart health. It may be a factor in lowering high blood cholesterol, avoiding obesity and reducing the risk of diabetes as well. There is some indication that resveratrol helps diversify gut microbiota, which has an impact on almost every system in the body, including your brain and heart.
Are Red Wine and Dark Chocolate Healthy Foods?
Researchers are not ready to call red wine and dark chocolate healthy just yet because much of the information regarding them is speculative. It will take more study to get a definitive answer, but there is hope. As with most things, it is all about moderation.
Although there may be some benefit to eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine, you can’t ignore the hard facts – both of these delicious treats are high in calories and sugar. Eating too much will mean you pack on pounds, which is a much bigger risk. The alcohol in red wine can damage the liver and lead to addiction, too.
How Much Is Too Much?
Neither red wine nor dark chocolate is considered a super food, so they are not right for everyone. If you do enjoy a glass of red wine, a healthy adult might benefit from it in the right quantities. The Mayo Clinic suggests:
- One glass a day for women at any age
- One glass a day for men older than 65
- Two glasses a day for men age 65 or younger
Here are a few things to remember about eating chocolate:
- Milk chocolate is not on that list of healthy chocolates. Stick to dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao or cocoa beans.
- Limit yourself to 1.5 to 3 ounces per serving of dark chocolate.
- Check the label, especially if you are counting calories. Just 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate has around 220 calories.
Red wine and dark chocolate are not the answer to perfect health or staying young. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise and some smart supplements choices, they might improve how you look and feel, though. Go ahead and enjoy them in moderation.
Mayo Clinic, Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?, April 2014
Mayo Clinic, Can chocolate be good for my health, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., December 2014
Cleveland Clinic Wellness, Eating chocolate can be healthy!
Writer Bio: Darla F. is a full-time freelance writer and healthcare professional who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.
- Darla Ferrara