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Nectar of the gods may have health benefits

Wine is one of the world's oldest beverages, with a history tracing back further than written records and closely intertwined with the history of agriculture itself. Throughout human history, wine has been a beverage sought after for its “healing” properties. According to “A Wine Miscellany,” wine has been credited for healing everything from digestive issues to pain from child birth. But how much of that medical advice stands the test of time and modern medicine? According to the Mayo Clinic, there might be some truth to the healing properties of wine.

Ancient cultures did not always have access to safe and clean drinking water. Wine's fermentation process often made it safer to consume than potentially contaminated water. Ancient Greeks and Mesopotamians watered their wine down considerably to avoid dehydration.

While safe drinking water is now accessible, there could be other benefits.

The positive links between red wine and heart health are attributed to resveratrol, a phenolic compound found in grape skins, grape leaves and wine. WebMD suggests a link between resveratrol and the reduction of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Resveratrol has gained so much attention that it is now available in supplements at health food stores.

“Because there have been very few studies conducted on resveratrol in humans, doctors still can't confirm any benefits, and they don't know what effects these supplements might have on people over the long term,” according to WebMd.

Other anti-oxidants found in wine are also credited for lowering body weight and reducing the risk of heart disease. However, over-consumption of wine or any alcohol can cause the opposite affect. Weight gain, heart disease and reduced liver function are all long-term effects of alcohol consumption. The bottom line, according to Mayo Clinic, is all things in moderation.

“While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That's because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body,” according to Mayo Clinic staff.

Red Wine Headaches

Many people suffer from headaches after drinking only a glass or less of red wine. Tannins, a chemical substance in grape skins, are often blamed for this reaction. Red wine headache sufferers do not normally report headaches from drinking a moderate amount of white wine.

French diet

French adults are less likely to be overweight than their American counterparts, despite a diet rich in carbohydrates and butter. Doctors have theorized that moderate consumption of red wine might play a part in the healthy French lifestyle.