Health Benefits of Red Grape Juice (vs Red Wine)
Red wine is often praised in the media for its purported health benefits. But turns out, you don't necessarily have to drink alcohol to benefit from the health-boosting properties of red wine polyphenols: Grape juice made from red, purple, or other dark-skinned grapes contains those very same polyphenols! Furthermore, grape juice does not contain alcohol, which may provide some added benefits. But can we go as far as to claim that purple or red grape juice is healthier than red wine? Here's a comparison of some of the most interesting health effects of grape juice versus red wine:
Red Wine is Good for Your Heart – But Grape Juice May Be Better!
By now everyone has heard that drinking red wine in moderation is good for your heart. But guess what, juice made from purple or red grapes contains the same polyphenols that are responsible for the heart health protecting qualities of red wine. Indeed, a study published in the June 2001 issue of the journal Circulation analyzed the effects of purple grape juice on cardiovascular health and reported that purple grape juice decreased platelet aggregation, increased platelet-derived nitric oxide release, and decreased superoxide production, both in vitro and in vivo. All of these observations suggest that drinking purple grape juice may help protect cardiovascular health.
Now, that's great, but guess what – there's more! A study published in the May 2001 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis found that red grape juice was much better than red wine and dealcoholized red wine at the same polyphenol dose at inhibiting atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and at improving lipid and antioxidant parameters in hamsters.
Resveratrol from Grapes, But Not From Wine, Associated with a Reduced Breast Cancer Risk
Red grapes, along with grape juice and red wine, are excellent dietary sources of resveratrol, a phytochemical that has been shown to possess strong antioxidant and anti-cancer properties in test tube experiments (in vitro studies). However, the source of resveratrol may play a significant role in whether this powerful compound can exert its beneficial effects also in vivo.
In one study, a group of scientists analyzed the relation between breast cancer risk and dietary intake of resveratrol in Switzerland. They based their analysis on data from a larger case-control study conducted between 1993 and 2003 on 369 cases and 602 controls. Their findings, which were reported in the April 2005 issue of the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, were interesting: resveratrol from grapes, but not from wine, was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
And it gets worse: some studies have even associated wine consumption with an increased risk of breast cancer. That association, however, remains highly controversial, and further studies are needed to determine whether red wine can really increase breast cancer risk.
Red Wine Has More Calories Than Grape Juice
If you're trying to lose weight, think twice before indulging in a glass of wine. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost as many calories as in a gram of fat. Grape juice, by contrast, is made almost entirely of carbohydrates (which contain 4 calories per gram) and water (which contains no calories). As a result, an 8-ounce glass of red wine weighs in at about 200 calories, whereas a glass of grape juice only contains about 150 calories.