Old Man Winter is here in all of his fury and has cast his bitter frosty chill upon us. It seems as if everything around us is in different shades of gray, and that can certainly put a damper on our mood and frame of mind. But there is a sure easy way to change that vibe and pick up our day. Sit back by a cozy fireplace or radiator (let’s be real) and sip a glass of fine, full-bodied red wine. It doesn’t have to be Shabbat to enjoy that glass. We can always take pleasure in sipping brilliant Bordeaux with gemmy fruit notes and tantalizing berry aromas on any night. Then, we can get that “feel good sensation” that relaxes our body and mind and help us unwind from our weary worn-out day . . . Ahhh!


         Feel good already? Wait, there is more.


         Here is another great reason to feel good about drinking wine. Scientific research on the health benefits of wine has been widespread over the past decade. The research suggests a number of positive effects wines, especially reds, may have on your health, including a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, lung and prostate cancer, dementia, stroke, diabetes, macular degeneration, kidney stones and osteoporosis. An Oregon State University study has determined that germ-killing components in white wine may help prevent food poisoning. A new Spanish study implies wine may even help fight off the common cold.


         Red wines have a high concentration of chemical compounds known as polyphenols, or antioxidants that scientists think may be linked to protecting against heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. While red wines generally contain more polyphenols than whites, the amount varies widely with each grape variety, with some researchers considering whether the smaller-sized molecules in white wine may be easier to break down in the body, which may be more beneficial.


         Red wine is also known to provide some protection against heart disease. The tannins, which give the red wine its color, are also responsible for increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.


         Doctors, scientists and winemakers agree on one thing: Only those who drink wine in moderation can hope to glean any of the health benefits. The excessive drinking of alcohol, especially during pregnancy, and for those on some medications, can lead to dangerous health problems. The USDA has defined “moderation” as two five-ounce glasses of wine a day for men, one for women.


         There are many resources on the Internet for additional information on the topic of wine and health. Be sure to check with your physician before increasing your intake of wine, or other alcohol.


         So put on your sneakers and jog on to the nearest wine shop where you can stock up on great first-rate “cardio juice.”


         Here’s a toast to your health! L’chaim!


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