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The Benefits of Red Wine


A blog by Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D., Fertility Centers of Illinois, December 22, 2015

As we enjoy the holiday season, we are often left feeling guilty about the consumption of food and alcohol at the numerous cocktail parties and gatherings of friends and family. There is, however, one indulgence that actually has numerous benefits and can be enjoyed in moderation … red wine.

Why Is Red Wine Beneficial?

Red wine contains several antioxidants, such as such as quercetin and resveratrol, which are chemicals that can prevent or slow cell damage caused by molecules called free radicals. The damage from free radicals can be a factor in heart disease, cancer and infertility. The skin of a grape is an abundant source of antioxidants, and grape skins are left on in the making of red wine, but they are removed in the making of white wine. Typically, the darker the wine, the greater the amount of antioxidants is in the wine.

Some research has brought a lot of attention to the resveratrol in red wine because it may help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce the LDL “bad” cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Animal studies have suggested that resveratrol can protect against obesity and diabetes, and other research has indicated it can reduce inflammation and blood clotting, which lead to heart disease. Studies have also shown that drinking red wine has anti-aging properties, reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, and reduce the risk of dementia. And a new study out of the University of Alberta found that drinking one glass of red wine may have the same effect on the body as an hour at the gym!

Red Wine and Fertility

For men, one study has found that couples were more likely to conceive through IVF when the male partner was a moderate alcohol drinker, and another study found that alcohol drinkers reported better overall sexual function than non-alcohol drinkers.

For women, one study found that those who drink a moderate amount of red or white wine stand a better chance of conceiving within two months than women who prefer beer and spirits, or do not drink at all.

The key word is “moderation.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, moderate drinking is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. However, it is always best for a woman to stop drinking completely when she is pregnant or undergoing in vitro fertilization, and there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Other Sources of Resveratrol

If you do not like red wine or do not drink alcohol, there are other food sources that are rich in the antioxidants found in red wine. These include:

  • Grapes, preferably dark red or purple
  • Grape juice
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bilberries
  • Peanuts
  • Green tea
  • Apples
  • Pomegranates
  • Dark Chocolate

So enjoy the holidays with antioxidant-rich foods and wines! If you have specific questions about the benefits and what is safe to consume while undergoing fertility treatment, please contact your fertility doctor.


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