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What makes wine special? Why is wine healthy and spirits unhealthy? Although they both contain alcohol, there are some components of wine, not found in beer and spirits, which contribute to its healthful benefits. One major ingredient of wine, especially red wine, are its polyphenols, a type of anti-oxidant.
In population studies over 20 years ago, in the 70s, it was found that those living in the Mediterranean countries lived the longest with the least disease, especially heart disease. In analyzing the diets of the inhabitants of the countries in the study with the best health, a Mediterranean diet was derived. In short those in the Mediterranean countries consume 1) lots of raw fruits and vegetable, 2) onions, garlic, and olives and 3) wine with meals.
In terms of the Mediterranean countries, Crete had the lowest rate of heart disease, almost none. An American was 64 times more likely to have heart problems than someone from Crete. Let us look at their diet versus the American diet.
An average inhabitant of Crete consumes 4 times more bread, 30 times more beans or legumes, 2 times as much fruit, 6 times as much fish, and 1/8 the amount of meat as an average American. Further the Cretans consume 50 liters of cold press extra virgin olive oil per person.
In a subsequent study a Mediterranean diet was fed to those who had heart attacks. It reduced their rate of heart disease by 70%. This was additional evidence that the Mediterranean diet was healthy for the heart. In analyzing the components of the diet it was found that it was high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. Further it was found that Red Wine has the same polyphenols and antioxidants, as does the Mediterranean diet. On the other hand Beer and Spirits contain no antioxidants.