As much as Americans love their wine — we surpassed France in wine consumption in 2010 — we often spout completely erroneous “facts” about the libation’s health benefits and risks. HellaWella is here to set the record straight on the top 5 health-related wine myths so you can politely correct that pretentious wine connoisseur at your next party.
There is no link between sulfites and headaches. Only about 1% of the general population, and about 5% of asthma sufferers, may react to sulfites, with restricted breathing as the most common allergy symptom. Some rarer symptoms include skin rashes, hives, itching and nausea.
If you frequently experience headaches after drinking your favorite Pinot, we hate to be the one to break to it you, but you just might be hitting the bottle a tad too hard and getting a headache because of dehydration.
However, if you believe the lush hypothesis doesn’t fully explain your symptoms, there are alternative explanations that could spare you from this self-realization. For example, you might be suffering from RWH, or red wine headache. We promise, it’s a real thing. The symptoms often include nausea and flushing and occur in people after even just one glass of red wine.
This phenomenon doesn’t happen with white wine, beer or liquor, and the reasoning behind it is still a bit of an anomaly. Some experts believe the culprit to be tannins, the flavonoids that are more abundant in red wines than white wines. The Harvard Health Letter cited studies that showed tannins caused the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which at high levels can cause headaches, especially in people who suffer from migraines. Other possible causes are prostaglandins or a strain of yeast or bacteria found in red wine.
Yes, you might look super trendy offering your guests organic wine, and there are plenty of great health-related reasons to drink it, but its health benefits have nothing to do with whether or not the wines contain sulfites — which they do. All wines contain sulfites, a naturally occurring byproduct of the fermentation of grape sugars. Some wines have more sulfites than others, but, as we mentioned in myth No. 1, it’s not going to determine whether or not you get a headache anyway.
The evidence is mixed on this one. Studies have shown that healthful compounds — such as resveratrol, flavonoids, antioxidants and tannins — are more abundant in red wine. This is because these heart-healthy compounds originate from grape skins, and white wine is produced with limited exposure to the grape skin. However, there aren’t enough studies out there to conclude that drinking red wine leads to more positive health outcomes than drinking white wine, according to the New York Times.
Drinking in moderation does not kill brain cells, according to Roberta Pentney, a former researcher at the State University of New York at Buffalo. However, alcohol can damage certain receptors in those smart brains of yours that result in some of the typical signs of intoxication. No wonder so many of us act a fool when we’ve had that one glass too many. This damage is mostly reversible, though, so fear not for the long term. Your short-term behavior is all on you, though.