A glass of red wine a day has long been touted as one of the secrets to living a long and healthy life. However, some of red wine's biggest health benefits — those from the chemical resveratrol — are now under fire after a three-year investigation found 145 instances of fabricated research.
The investigation focuses on one particular researcher, Dipak K. Das at UConn Health Center, who has been known for his work on red wine’s benefits to cardiovascular health. At this point, no research has been retracted and the claims are merely allegations.
If the data is proven to have been falsified, then the research on resveratrol will have to take a step back, says Michelle Davenport, a nutrition researcher and PhD Candidate in Nutrition from New York University. This doesn't necessarily mean that red wine is not healthy — but it will take time to find out which studies have been impacted.
Taking a step back can be a good thing though in the nutrition research field, which oftentimes zones in on one "hot" nutrient or food, like resveratrol or fish oil, instead of looking at the larger, more complete picture she says.
"In other words, this unfortunate event may actually end up supporting what we have always known to be true — a resveratrol supplement, no matter how good the small-scale, molecular studies are, will never be a replacement for an overall healthy lifestyle and diet," Davenport says. "Yes, fruits, vegetables, and the treadmill."
Additionally, there is plenty of other research on red wine — particularly its inclusion in a traditional Mediterranean diet — that shows that red wine in moderation is good for health. In fact, red wine has a lot of antioxidants that fight off inflammation. Again though, it's all about the total of the diet — not just red wine.
"It's important to note that people who follow the Mediterranean diet, while they do drink wine, also consume a lot of fruits, vegetables and a lot of the other 'good foods, so it's the interaction of all these things together, not just the wine," Davenport says. "Again, keyword: lifestyle."
Davenport's advice? If you enjoy it, have no more than 5 ounces of red wine a day.
"I personally drink wine because I like it, and life is too short to not enjoy a great meal with a nice glass of wine," she says.
Do you drink red wine for its health benefits? Does this research investigation change how you feel about red wine? Tell us about all about it!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.