The impact of white wine on your health

By Melissa Sammy, MDLinx
Published March 26, 2020

Key Takeaways

Red wine, a distinguished component of (arguably) the healthiest diet in the world—the Mediterranean diet—is often extolled for its numerous health benefits. These benefits are owed to red wine’s naturally occurring key ingredients: heart-healthy antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering polyphenol resveratrol, and anti-cancer polyphenol ellagic acid. But—what about white wine?

Although not as extensively studied as its red counterpart, white wine does have some positive health attributes. In fact, some researchers have shown that white wine has its own unique roster of health-boosting chemicals and antioxidants that sets it apart from red wine.

So, whether you’re allergic to red wine, not a big fan of the taste, are searching for something light and refreshing for the warm-weather months, or just outright prefer white wine, here are five health benefits of white wine that may inspire you to pour a glass:

Heart health and metabolism. Researchers have shown that drinking white wine may improve cardiovascular and metabolic function. In one study, researchers randomized 224 patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes to drink either red wine, white wine, or mineral water with their dinners for 2 years to determine the effect of moderate wine intake. At the end of the trial, although red wine drinkers demonstrated the most improvements in lipid and glucose control, those who drank white also saw improvements. Plus, compared with those who drank mineral water, white wine drinkers saw no increases in blood pressure levels or decreases in liver function.

In another study, drinking aged white wine brought about greater heart-health benefits than drinking gin. In fact, white wine helped to repair endothelial cells lining blood vessels, thus offering cardioprotection. It also decreased the presence of inflammatory cells and pro-inflammatory biomarkers.

Lung health. This is one area of health where white wine may have an edge over red. While white and red wine can both bolster lung function, white wine seems to have a greater positive impact on it.

In one study by University of Buffalo researchers, 1,555 participants were assessed for lifetime alcohol consumption, lifestyle habits, body measurements, and lung function. According to findings, wine drinkers had the highest concentration of protective antioxidants in their blood. Additionally, following an analysis of all alcohol intake variables with lung function, both recent and lifetime intake of wine had the strongest associations with volume forcibly expelled in one second and forced vital capacity. Interestingly, this association was stronger for white wine.

“Red wine in moderation has been shown to be beneficial for the heart, but in this case the relationship was stronger for white wine. We also have shown that both dietary levels and blood serum levels of antioxidants are linked to lung health and function. We think that the antioxidants in wine account for our current findings,” said study author Holger Schünemann, MD, PhD.

Renal health. One unique compound in particular—caffeic acid—may be responsible for white wine’s health benefits, according to researchers. For instance, in a study published in PLOS ONE, Italian researchers isolated and investigated caffeic acid for its purported antioxidant activities. Specifically, they assessed the protective effect of low-dose caffeic acid on oxidative stress-induced endothelial injury. Overall, low-dose caffeic acid—similar to the amount observed following moderate white wine consumption—may offer endothelial protection and reduce the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease.

Cognitive health. Some researchers have shown that the unique antioxidants specific to white wine may offer protection against cognitive decline. For instance, in a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers extracted polyphenols from white wine and fed them to mice for 2 months to determine the impact of a white wine-enriched diet on the brain for Alzheimer disease-like pathology. At the end of the trial, these mice had lower risk of developing cognitive problems leading to Alzheimer disease.

Glycemic health. Like red wine, white wine may help improve cholesterol levels. In one study involving 146 participants with mild to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease who were followed for a year, those who exercised at least two times per week and drank wine―white or red―saw significant improvements in their LDL cholesterol levels.

As always, remember that moderation is key and to drink responsibly. Cheers!

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