Ask the Nutritionist
Q: Since my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, I have reduced my alcohol intake so that I drink only an occasional glass of red wine. I like to substitute it with de-alcoholized red wine, which is available from Trader Joe's and a few other places. Is there any health benefit from these "wines"?
CSG, Newton, Massachusetts
A: It is recommended that breast cancer survivors consume alcoholic beverages in moderation.
The difference between a regular red wine and an alcohol-free one is only in the alcohol content. One of the touted benefits of wine drinking is related to the phytonutrients that are present in this type of alcoholic beverage.
Phytonutrients are present in both regular red wine and alcohol-free red wine, as well as in 100% red/purple grape juice. Phytonutrients are natural compounds found in plant-based foods that give plants their rich pigment as well as their distinctive taste and smell. They are essentially the plant's immune system and offer protection to humans as well.
There are thousands of phytonutrients that may help prevent cancer as well as provide other health benefits, including promotion of cancer survivorship. Phytonutrients that are present in red wine come from red or concord grapes. Resveratrol is an example of a phytonutrient with some anticancer properties, found in the skin of red grapes. Research shows that it can inhibit cancer formation in different ways. Resveratrol stops DNA damage, improves DNA repair, blocks oxidation of cells, slows down tumor growth, and slows cell transformation from a normal to a cancerous state.
Replacing your red wine with a de-alcohlized red grape juice is a healthy switch, but you can still enjoy an occasional glass of regular red wine.