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Alcohol and Menopause: That Glass of Wine is Fine

Casted shadow of someone holding a glass.

It’s a joy in life for many. One that you don’t need to ditch once you reach a certain age or stage, the newest science shows. Here’s why, and how to enjoy your healthy pour even more.

Having a glass of wine along with some lively conversation at get-togethers is good for you.

Having wine with friends helps you live longer.According to studies of the Blue Zones, areas around the world where residents live to 100 or more, people who drink alcohol moderately and regularly live longer than those who abstain. One of the keys, the researchers say: Blue Zone residents enjoy their wine while socializing with their circle. They have strong ties to their friends and family and active social lives overall, and that includes eating and drinking together.

A growing body of research is finding that for humans in general, no matter where they live, interacting with others is linked to a healthier, happier life. One review of 148 studies showed that people with strong, supportive relationships had a 50 percent greater chance of survival than those with weak social relationships. That’s because connections to other people keeps us strong mentally and physically, say experts who study loneliness and interaction. Having a glass of wine along with some lively conversation at your get-togethers is good for you.

Woman in pink dress holding a glass of wine.

Enjoying it with healthy meals doubles your benefits. A diet filled with plant-based foods, and some red wine, can help keep your brain healthy, finds a new 12-year study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. According to the researchers, metabolites (substances made when the body breaks down food) from red wine, mushrooms, coffee, and cocoa along with polyphenol-rich foods like apples, blueberries, and oranges protect against cognitive impairment. In addition, the Blue Zones studies found that when people drink wine and eat a healthy diet, the body absorbs 2 to 3 times more healthy nutrients, including those that help keep the heart healthy. We may actually be healthier when we drink. It’s true: Women in their 50s who drink in moderation—and spread their drinks out over the course of a week—have a greater chance of staying free of chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes than nondrinkers, a Harvard study of almost 14,000 females found. And research from the U.K. suggests that menopausal women who drink in moderation are less likely to be at risk for heart disease

Sip Smart. Now that you know the happy truth about wine, here’s how to make the most of your next glass:Follow the power of one. This is super important: The health benefits from wine come from drinking in moderation, the research shows. According to the Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, moderate alcohol consumption for women is up to one 5-ounce drink per day. And no, unfortunately, it doesn’t work if you have multiple drinks on Saturday and abstain the rest of the week. Stick to one glass daily—or just occasionally, your choice—and thoroughly enjoy it. Choose red whenever you can. The greatest health benefits come from red wine, which is rich in protective antioxidants, research shows. It boosts heart health, helps regulate blood sugar, and reduces the risk of dementia. It can even help protect you against viruses like the common cold, studies have found. If possible, drink Cannonau wine from Sardinia (also known as Grenache), suggest the Blue Zones experts. It has more antioxidants than other reds and may be the reason Sardinians suffer less stress and fewer heart attacks. Eat healthy while you sip. Wine can be especially beneficial as part of a Mediterranean diet, in which you eat lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and olive oil and cut back on meats and processed foods, numerous studies have found. Embrace a plant-based eating plan. Schedule a wine date. As you now know, socializing with a friend or a group of pals while sipping a glass of wine is the way to score the physical and mental health perks. Use this rationale as the reason to get together more frequently and you’ll continually shore up the connections that keep you strong.

Pam O'Brien
Pam O’Brien is a writer and editor who has written for O Quarterly, Shape, Fitness, and Sweet July magazines, among others. Most recently she served as deputy editor of Shape, where she headed up the health, nutrition, food, travel, and celebrity coverage. She is an expert on health, nutrition and wellness topics, and has appeared on many national TV programs, including the TODAY show, Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, and Access Hollywood.

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