A new study published Monday in the Annals of Medicine, the first long-term study to focus on the affects of alcohol consumption and those with Type II Diabetes. The study, which was carried out at Ben Gurion University, randomly assigned 224 alcohol-abstaining patients between the ages of 45-75, all with Type II diabetes, to drink 5 ounces of either mineral water, red wine or white wine with dinner. All of the patients followed a Mediterranean diet with no restrictions on their calories.
The researchers performed genetic tests that showed how quickly the patients metabolized alcohol, as well as various lipid (cholesterol) tests. They also measured glucose control, blood pressure, liver function tests, medication use, and other symptoms at several time points during the two-year follow-up.
After two years, those who drank red wine every evening had significantly increased their good cholesterol by approximately ten percent, thereby improving signs of cardiac health. This is extremely important, as people with Type II Diabetes are more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This is a change that didn’t happen in white wine drinkers.
In addition, the study found no adverse affects from the wine, and also improved the patients’ sleep. Wine consumption did not increase or decrease blood pressure or liver function tests.
According to the researchers, “Red wine was found to be superior in improving overall metabolic profiles, mainly by modestly improving the lipid profile, by increasing good HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1, one of the major constituents of HDL cholesterol, while decreasing the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.”
Iris Shai, principal investigator of the trial, and a member of the Department of Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences, said in a press statement, “The differences found between red and white wine were opposed to our original hypothesis that the beneficial effects of wine are mediated predominantly by the alcohol.”
Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, told CBS News that researchers have known for some time that moderate amounts of alcohol are OK for diabetics to consume. What was in question was what kind of alcohol was best and would offer the most benefit. Speaking of red wine’s health-benefiting ingredients, Sood said, “It’s the non-ethanol components of the wine, which are present more so in red wine. It’s the phenols, it’s the resveratrol, it’s the tannins. They all work together with the ethanol possibly to result in these positive changes.”
However, unsurprisingly, moderation is a key part of what makes the red wine beneficial, along with a healthy Mediterranean diet.