Despite the mounting body of research, Lisa Dorfman, a sports nutritionist, adjunct professor and national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, isn't convinced that drinking red wine is either the best way for women to de-stress or to get their daily dose of phytonutrients. For one thing, alcohol adds calories to the diet and saps a woman's body of B vitamins and other minerals.
"I wouldn't start drinking to protect my heart," she says. "I would exercise and eat well first." After all, a diet rich in fruits and veggies packs a whole lot more health benefit, including vitamins, minerals and fiber, than a glass of red wine, Dorfman points out.
She suggests that women eat colorful, nutrient dense meals. But that doesn't mean that they can't have a little splurge now and then. One strategy is to reserve a fraction of your day's calories for fun foods. "If that includes a glass of wine," she says, "then so be it."
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has more information on the health benefits of polyphenols found in red wine and other plant-based sources.
SOURCES: Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D., research psychologist, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston; Lisa Dorfman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, LMHC, sports nutritionist and adjunct professor, University of Miami, and national media spokesperson, American Dietetic Association; HealthDay News: Dec. 20, 2001, Nature; July 2005, Journal of the American Dietetic Association Nov. 20, 2006, Nature; Oct.23, 2006, presentation, American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, Las Vegas; Mount Sinai Medical Center, news release, Sept. 18, 2006