The affect alcohol has on health is usually hinged on an important factor: how much you drink. Drinking alcohol in moderation is associated with some health benefits. According to an April 2017 CNN article (1), some research indicates moderate alcohol consumption may lower heart disease risk up to 30%.
Some research also suggests moderate alcohol consumption may help lower risk for type 2 diabetes.
However, drinking alcohol over the moderation guideline INCREASES risk for heart disease and many other health problems. More is NOT better when it comes to alcohol.
Wine especially has often been associated with health benefit because of the high level of antioxidants from grapes.
Red wine usually receives most of the attention for being an antioxidant source, but white wine is also a good source of antioxidants.
How does alcohol impact weight regulation?
Again, it is dependent on how much you are consuming and other lifestyle factors.
A gram of alcohol provides about 7 calories. Therefore, drinking more than a serving of alcohol can quickly pack on extra calories.
Staying within the guidelines of 1 serving of alcohol per day for women and up to 2 servings per day for men does not alone increase risk for weight gain.
Potential benefit of red or white wine in moderation
Red wine is often touted as a rich source of antioxidants and a good source of reservatrol which is from red grapes.
White wine has antioxidants as well, but there are more studies looking at red wine health benefits compared to white wine (2).
Even though there are more studies with red wine affecting heart health, white wine also can provide some benefit. A 2002 study (3) concluded non-alcoholic components in white wine can help lower inflammation and oxidative stress.
A 2004 study (4) compared the acute digestion of either red or white on endothelial function in participants with coronary heart disease.
Researchers concluded both red and white wine improved endothelial function which can lower risk for cardiovascular events.
Alcohol and weight regulation
With alcohol providing 7 kcals per gram, it may seem consuming alcohol can increase risk for weight gain.
However, according to a 2010 study (5), epidemiological studies do not provide consistent evidence that alcohol intake is a risk factor for weight gain.
This study looked at alcohol intake data from over 19,000 women who were free of chronic disease.
Researchers found there was an inverse association between alcohol intake and weight gain after 12.9 years later.
Compared with non-drinkers, women who drank up to the moderate guideline for alcohol intake had a lower risk for weight gain after 12.9 years.
This suggests drinking white wine is not automatically fattening.
However, keep in mind drinking over the moderate level is not recommended and may increase risk for weight gain along with other health problems.
Is white wine fattening?
A 2017 CNN article (6) suggests wine may be a good choice for people trying to watch their weight compared to other alcoholic beverages.
White wine also usually has a lower alcohol amount compared to red wine, so choosing white over red may save you some calories.
Keep in mind dessert wines can be higher in sugars, and in general either red or white wine with higher alcohol percents can have higher calories.
A 2015 Washington Post article (7) highlights research suggesting both red and white wine in moderation may positively influence blood cholesterol levels and blood glucose levels.
A 2004 study (8) investigated the effect alcohol would have on an energy restricted diet in overweight and obese study participants.
All study participants were used to a moderate alcohol intake. At the end of the study, both groups showed significant weight loss. There was no significant difference between groups for weight loss.
These research results and from other studies suggest white wine can be part of a weight loss plan, and white wine is not, in moderate quantities, fattening by itself.
Like any other food or drink, it should be part of a balanced, healthy diet.
If you are wondering if you should be drinking wine, speak with your doctor.
Drinking alcohol may increase risk for certain cancers and is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
If you have a tendency to over consume alcohol or are on any medication, it may be best to avoid all alcohol intake.
Conclusion: How much are you drinking?
A standard serving of wine is 5 ounces, and the guideline for moderate alcohol intake for women is up to one serving of alcohol a day.
For men, it is up to 2 servings per day. Keep in mind when you pour alcohol or get wine at a restaurant, it is often more than 5 ounces in your glass.
According to a 2013 USA Today article (9), people who drink wine usually don’t know how much they are consuming.
If you drink alcohol, knowing how much you drink is not only important for weight regulation but is important for over all health.
Studies have shown pouring into tall, narrow glasses can help keep portion size lower instead of using wide, short glasses.
Making this small change with your glasses may help you pour less into your glass.
Drinking wine in moderation doesn’t necessarily increase risk for weight gain.
However, drinking over the moderation guideline can increase your calorie intake from alcohol and may increase weight gain risk.
Weight gain is a combination of your total energy intake, exercise and other lifestyle factors.