Healthy drinking: Red Wine vs. Pomegranate Juice, help me choose
January 9, 2008 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Healthy drinking: Red Wine vs. Pomegranate Juice, help me choose

I hear that wine reduces the chance for heart disease by 30% or so. So I began to research a little about it, and the positive benefit of it appears to by polyphenols (flavonoids) and antioxidants. Well, if those things are so great, why wouldn't I just take massive doses of those and avoid the alcohol dehydration? I could be simply drinking some pomegranate or blueberry juice, which has significantly more of these beneficial chemicals, no? Yet, I've seen nothing comparison of these two. Am I missing something? Does wine have other unforseen beneficial sources?
posted by torpark to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Fruit juice is full of sugar, which could cause weight gain. Consumption of wine, to get the benefits you mention, should be limited to a glass or two a day, from what I've read.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:29 PM on January 9, 2008

Um, it tastes better? With the small amount of red wine that's supposed to be good for you, would alcohol dehydration even be an issue?

Oh yeah, and it makes you more attractive to the opposite sex.

Wait. What?
posted by JaredSeth at 8:31 PM on January 9, 2008

Why choose? Drink both! (But not at the same time, please.)
posted by spacewrench at 8:34 PM on January 9, 2008

You'll probably find that there's a large population of people already drinking red wine regularly over a long period of time. This population is good to study, and that's why we have these results. If you can find a similarly large population of people drinking a lot of pomegranate juice (regularly, over a long period of time), then a comparison could be made. It's the lack of that group that creates the lack of comparision.
posted by pompomtom at 8:40 PM on January 9, 2008

Have you ever tasted pomegranate juice?
posted by jpdoane at 8:55 PM on January 9, 2008

Fruit juice is full of sugar, which could cause weight gain.

Yeast converts some of the sugar during fermentation into alcohol. But the net loss of carbons going from sugar to alcohol is small (as carbon dioxide). These carbons get burned in your body or converted into fat. 100 mL of wine contains around 70 kcal, whereas 100 mL of pressed apple juice will contain around 60 kcal, and pulp-free OJ around 46 kcal per 100 mL.

100 mL of pomegranate juice contains around 67 kcal per 100 mL.
Blueberry buice contains around 55 kcal per 100 mL.

100 mL is also frequently known as a dL, and is just over 4 fluid ounces in old measurements.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen. A decision to expose oneself to it for "health" reasons should balance its positive and negative effects.
posted by meehawl at 8:57 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Grape juice seems to have the same benefits as red wine.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:59 PM on January 9, 2008

Because the benefits of a glass of red wine are not merely physiological.

Enjoying a glass of red wine properly requires that you slow down for a moment. That you take the time to savour the tastes dancing over your tongue. In short, that you sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up and just chill the fuck out for a few minutes.

I think the health benefits of that--physical and mental--should be tolerably self-evident.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:07 PM on January 9, 2008 [10 favorites]

the positive benefit of it appears to by polyphenols (flavonoids) and antioxidants.

Yes, but focusing only on this aspect possibly takes the potential benefit out of the context in which the benefit is actually gained. We could all take polyphenol and antioxidant pills only to discover that the real benefit to drinking red wine in moderation is the combination of the chemicals with the lifestyle choices of those that drink red wine in moderation, or perhaps the simple state of relaxation that a drink-a-day gives you.

In another context, you could take omega-3 fatty acid pills and eat hamburgers and get no net benefit. Or you could eat lots of healthy fish.

Part of me wonders if the Mediterranean and Okinawan diets have more to do with low-stress Mediterranean and Okinawan culture. Or genetics. Or genetics + diet. Or genetics + diet + culture.

Whatever. Have a glass of wine and relax.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:11 PM on January 9, 2008

Red wine, like pretty much any wine, tastes awful. Go with the juice. You get the benefits without having to choke down wine.
posted by Justinian at 9:13 PM on January 9, 2008

As I understand it, there's never been any real consensus on the value of any of these things, and the anti-oxidant craze is a typical health fad, vastly overstating a small benefit from supplementing an otherwise balanced diet.

The documented medical benefits of wine could easily be -- and quite likely are -- the same as for any other substance or activity that induces or supports relaxation, socialization, and lowered stress.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:15 PM on January 9, 2008

An Justinian, speak for yourself. To me, there is nothing on earth that tastes as *good* as fine red wine. What a weird comment to make. You think the huge numbers of serious wine lovers are all faking their enjoyment?
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:17 PM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

Wine at night. Pomagranate during the day.

Justinian, by telling the OP what they should do aren't we trying to speak for him in a sense, though?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:30 PM on January 9, 2008

2 buck chuck 750 ml $2.99--- PomaGrande $3.99 450 ml
prefer old vine dry farmed Zinfadel 35,00
posted by hortense at 9:33 PM on January 9, 2008

Justinian is probably one of those people who just don't like alcohol. I suspect that the OP is another one. Aversion to alcohol seems to be genetic.

Red wine is good for people who like red wine. Grape juice, plus a favorite unwinding ritual, is good for people who don't.

The stress of having to drink something that tastes terrible probably outweighs the benefits.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:40 PM on January 9, 2008

Nobody really seems to be answering the question which, by the way, can be answered by Google.
posted by vacapinta at 9:43 PM on January 9, 2008

torpark, I would say you're going about your analysis of what's healthy the wrong way. You're looking at the constituent chemicals and molecules within a food and building out from there. But there's a lot that happens between simply eating flavonoids and them getting into your bloodstream (or wherever they're needed) to actually be of any benefit. Yes, you can find studies saying that in a lab flavonoids injected into rats or even humans have had beneficial effects. That's a lot different than saying flavonoids digested in red wine have beneficial effects. Too many uncontrolled variables between the event and the result.

If you've started to do some research, you will quickly find that almost all nutrition studies demonstrate association and not causation. You're looking for a definitive, causative answer to try and determine which is the healthier drink. As you pointed out there are no studies comparing blueberry juice, pomegranate juice, or red wine. Any of the studies that have been done on the health benefits of red wine on people are all epidemiological, and therefore not causative.

You should read Michael Pollen's new book, In Defense of Food, or Gary Taubes's Good Calories, Bad Calories. These will give you better guidelines on how to choose foods that are healthy.

The bottom line when it comes to either wine or pomegranate juice is that there's the possibility that the sugar content of both could be far worse than any healthy benefits derived from antioxidants or flavonoids. A lot of it may come down to your own bodies ability to metabolize glucose, your insulin sensitivty, and your ability to expel oxidants.
posted by herda05 at 12:54 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

No need to choose, just drink pomegranate wine.
posted by epimorph at 1:51 AM on January 10, 2008

Forget the juice, eat fresh pomegranates. I started eating pomegranates last year out of curiosity when I became aware of the whole pomegranate fad and discovered that I really really love them. Oh god they are soooo sooo good. And they require somewhat careful effort to break apart and eat, thus yielding at least as much of a relaxing ritual as having a glass of wine. Eating a pomegranate with a lover is particularly rewarding. The juice is good, but it is kind of ridiculous that it costs more than wine.

I've always eaten a quart of blueberries / day in the summer, and now there's a store by my house that carries dried blueberries in bulk. They are really really good mixed half & half with nice fresh pecans (also carried by the store). A really great snack is walnuts, pecans, cranberries, and blueberries mixed in equal portions which hits a lot of health high points -- anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, brain food, etc. And it tastes about a bazillion times better than store bought trail mix.
posted by lastobelus at 3:24 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some of the recent work on the health benefits of red wine has focused on resveratrol, a compound which appears to have pretty amazing properties. From the article, it seems that plants produce this when they are under attack by certain fungi, in the way that wine grapes frequently are -- but it's not something you'd find in just any fruit. A quick google search on resveratrol and pomegranates doesn't show any evidence of resveratrol in pomegranate juice.
posted by wyzewoman at 4:10 AM on January 10, 2008

Y'all place too much faith in google. The various theories of wine's role, if any, in longevity or other health benefits are not settled. You can find scientific cases for any position from "wine is poison" to "wine will make you live to 100." A selective case can be made as well for any of the supposedly implicated compounds (antioxidants, resveratrol, etc) and for other beverages and foods that supply these compounds. There is no scientific consensus on any of this because the statistical problem of assessing the effects of diet on morbidity -- even reduced to specific questions like the relationship between wine and heart disease or resveratrol and artherosclerosis -- are simply to multivariate to be "solved" even with massive population studies, and attempts to reduce them to simpler sets of variables always involve removing other very important potential factors, from population genetics to lifestyle to climate, from the equation. Like all food-related health claims, there is a huge amount of hype around all of this, and lots of people scamming and making a quick buck from taking one isolated finding or a few studies and trumpeting these as if they were definitive, so that you can now buy resveratrol supplements. Heck, this is why you can buy pomegranate juice at all -- it's a hyped up health fad based on a very small number of non-definitive studies.

We know what makes people live longer: healthy balanced diets, lots of exercise, low stress, calorie restricted diets, strong social networks, stable families, clean environments, and genetic dispositions to disease or immunity. But saying we "know" this doesn't tell us what to drink or eat or where to live.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:40 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

that's "simple TOO multivariate," sorry
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:41 AM on January 10, 2008

Or as someone once said, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die.

You can eat the world's healthiest diet and have a building fall on you tomorrow. And some people smoke their whole lives and die at 101. Go figure.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:42 AM on January 10, 2008

I would like to publicly, but politely, disagree with spacewrench: you can drink your red wine and your pomegranate juice at the same time. And it's wonderful!!

Try this simple and delicious recipe for a homemade wine cooler on a warm day (or whenever you like):

Take one large tumbler with ice.

Add equal parts red wine and pomegranate juice, and then fill to taste with the sparkling water of your choice. Stir gently.

It's as delicious as it is simple, especially if you use the more affordable shirazes or cabernets.

Definitely DON'T use the vintage bottles you've been saving for a special occasion: this is best with your Two-Buck Chucks and the like.
posted by deejay jaydee at 10:33 AM on January 10, 2008

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