sparkling wine

Protect Your Brain With New Year’s Champagne!

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By J. E. Hinners, MD MPH

I am quite proud of that nifty title rhyme there, I must say….

Most people have already heard quite a bit about the possible health benefits of moderate and regular consumption of wine (red wine, in particular).

One theory for these health benefits centers around red wine’s high content of resveratrol, a polyphenol chemical that acts as an antioxidant and as a potential neuroprotectant against dementia. Resveratrol is also believed to fight against several other age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease–although there are still those who would question this theory.

But what about that sparkling New Year’s glass of champagne?

Champagne (or technically, “sparkling wine,” unless it’s come from the northeast province of France) turns out to also contain a high amount of polyphenols, including resveratrol. Unlike white wine, which is generally lower in polyphenols than red wine, champagne is usually blended from a mixture of both red and white grapes–Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.

 Here is a quick summary of several champagne investigations up til now:

1) Spatial working memory improvement: Moderate, regular champagne consumption was demonstrated to improve spatial working memory in aged rodents.

2) Neuroprotective effect: Low concentrations of champagne demonstrated a protective effect against oxidative neuronal injury (that is to say, it’s good for your brain!).

3) Vascular performance improvement: Daily, moderate champagne consumption appears to improve vascular function–presumably by way of polyphenol improvement of nitric oxide (NO) availability in the cellular matrix. That means healthier blood flow for you!

4) Optimal amount: One drink of champagne a day is believed to be the optimal level of consumption for the desired health effects.

5) Red vs. white: Red sparkling wine was found to have greater polyphenol and antioxidant capacity than white sparkling wines.

6) Aged or non-aged: Champagnes with longer aging times (or “sur lie” times, for the winos here) showed less anitoxidant potential than champagnes with shorter aging times.

7) More or less sugar content: Greater or less sugar content did not affect antioxidant capacity; trans-resveratol levels appeared to decrease in function in champagne with lower sugar (glucose) concentrations less than 40 g/L.

Champagne instead of wine?

There could be an argument for choosing champagne over wine so as to reap similar health benefits while perhaps better maintaining your drinking consumption at moderate levels.

The bubbles of champagne just might give you a bit of a fuller feel sooner, encouraging you to keep your drink at just one glass. The traditional champagne glasses may also put a check on the amount consumed, as flute glasses tend to hold less volume than wine glasses.

Champagne 101 – sugar content levels

Take your pick, from most to least sweet: Doux, Demi-Sec, Sec, Extra Sec (or Extra Dry), Brut, Extra Brut, and Brut Natural.

Word of warning

This article is not intended to recommend a regular, daily “dose” of champagne for every individual out there. There are those of you with various medical conditions would who be wise to first check with a health provider who’s familiar with your particular health condition.

Always recommended with any alcoholic beverage is sticking with *moderation* and complementing the beverage with both water and food. And with that being said…

Cheers and Happy New Year!

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