As you relax with a glass of warm mulled wine in front of the Christmas tree this winter, you might think the festive season is playing havoc with your healthy choices.
But we have glad tidings – your glass of mulled wine is actually brimming with health benefits.
Usually served hot and made with red wine, citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, and mulling spices including cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, peppercorn or cardamom, mulled wine has been a Christmas tradition since the 2nd Century and is thought to have Roman origins.
But as well as the feel-good factor it brings, the warming drink has a number of health benefits – when drunk in moderation, of course.
1. Reducing cardiovascular disease
Some studies suggest red wine can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which causes heart attacks and strokes.
Red wine is a great source of antioxidants, and drinking it is thought to help increase levels of HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) and eliminate LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, helping to prevent clogged arteries and heart disease.
The nutmeg in mulled wine can also help the cardiovascular system, as studies suggest it reduces cardiovascular disease and can boost heart function.
2. Reducing osteoporosis
Red wine in moderation has also been linked with reducing the risk of the bone-weakening condition osteoporosis, by increasing bone mineral density.
This is believed to be down to the resveratrol – a polyphenol plant compound – in red wine, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help protect against bone loss.
3. Slowing down ageing
The resveratrol in red wine is also thought to help rejuvenate cells and slow the ageing process.
A high concentration of resveratrol also helps fight against damaging free radicals in the skin, keeping you looking younger.
4. Boosting the brain
That fantastic compound resveratrol also helps improve blood flow, and studies suggest this can boost brain function and memory.
In addition, the nutmeg in mulled wine can help stimulate the brain, reducing fatigue, stress and anxiety, and improving concentration.
5. Beating colds
The antioxidants in red wine can help fight infections and boost immunity – a Spanish study found people who drank more than 14 glasses of wine a week had a 40% lower risk of getting a cold than teetotallers. Cloves are also believed to have anti-viral properties.
The nutmeg in mulled wine can help clear the liver and kidneys of toxins, and is particularly effective as a liver tonic.
It can also help prevent kidney stones forming.
7. Fighting inflammation
The cinnamon in mulled wine has been shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, reducing swelling and restoring normal tissue function. This may help conditions like arthritis.
The antioxidants in red wine and in cloves can also help reduce inflammation.
8. Improving gut health
The cloves in mulled wine are thought to increase gut motility, as well as improving digestion. As a result, the cloves are thought to improve digestive problems including indigestion, wind and constipation.
9. Painkiller effect
The essential oil eugenol in cloves has local anaesthetic and antiseptic properties that can be used to help treat dental problems like toothache.
How do you like to drink mulled wine at Christmas? Let us know in the Comments section below.