Some may quibble that wine is a beverage, not a food, to which I say — go get your own blog and quibble away. Others may object to calling any food/ beverage containing alcohol “great.” That point I will take under consideration, but only for those of you with a relevant addiction, religion or age status.
Still, even readers who are OK with drinking alcohol on occasion might question if there is enough nutritional value in red wine to qualify it as a “great” food. After all, just the other day, I rejected pork rinds as a great low-carb food on this account. But red wine has something that pork rinds do not: resveratrol.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in red wine and red grape skins that appears to have health benefits for those who imbibe it. Scientists have been investigating resveratrol for several years. According to a study recently published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), resveratrol may reverse or prevent some of the negative health consequences of space travel or a sedentary life.
You might wonder what astronauts and couch-potatoes have in common. The answer is, neither gets enough weight-bearing exercise. The Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, Dr. Gerald Weissmann, explains it this way: “There are overwhelming data showing that the human body needs physical activity, but for some of us, getting that activity isn’t easy. A low gravity environment makes it nearly impossible for astronauts. For the earthbound, barriers to physical activity are equally challenging, whether they be disease, injury, or a desk job” (Red Wine: Exercise in a Bottle? | ScienceDaily).
Among the serious health consequences of a lack of exercise (in science-speak, “mechanical unloading”) are the development of insulin resistance and a loss of bone mineral density. The research shows that resveratrol “prevents the wasting disorders of mechanical unloading by acting as a physical exercise mimetic.” At least, that’s what it did for the rats being hung by their tails and hind limbs and given a daily dose of resveratrol. As yet, no one has repeated this experiment with humans.
It remains to be established what an effective dose of resveratrol is for humans. Companies selling supplements suggest it could take hundreds of bottles of wine a day to give you enough. On a low-carb diet, you want to keep it to a single glass. Two tops.
Getting all your exercise out of a bottle — or a pill — is unwise. But as Dr. Weissmann notes, “Resveratrol may not be a substitute for exercise, but it could slow deterioration until someone can get moving again.” It’s also a way to hedge your bets.
Before becoming a low-carber, I drank more beer than wine. Some light beers have a reasonable carb count, but they are still made from grains, and usually lack the taste of a regular beer. With wine, you can drink the real deal.
Of course, there is still the question of the carb count for red wine. Most of us on a low-carb diet are leery of drinking caloric beverages, as everyone should be. But the calories in wine are mostly from alcohol, not carbohydrates. The exact carb count depends on the type and vintage; for an average red table wine, the USDA says a five ounce glass contains 3.84 grams of carbs. (You can check this database page for several types of red wine.)
I wouldn’t drink wine on the induction phase of the Atkins plan, but after that, maybe. Almost certainly.
In fact, I’m going to drain the glass I poured for my post photo right now, and then do some yard work.
On second thought, I’ll do the yard work first.
Also see Part 1, Part 2, Part 4 and Part 5 of this series. (There are more parts to come! If you have a great low-carb food in mind, let me know. What I’m interested in are foods that a person might eat more of after adopting a low carb eating plan. Admittedly, I stretched that point with red wine, but in my case it holds true.)