Potential Benefits of Wine and a Chocolate Wine Brownie
By now, you’ve heard that a glass of wine a day is good for you. But, you probably also know that wine, like any alcohol has negative health effects.
So, let’s sort through some of this research….
Looking on ScienceDirect for studies on “wine antioxidants,” I found more than 17,000. I narrowed it down to free journal articles published this year (2015), because we want the most recent data. I then selected three articles to share.
Consumers Views of Wine’s Benefits
The first study I want to share actually studied consumers views of wine related to health benefits.
Consumers were given a list of possible health benefits and asked to mark which health benefits red wine and white wine had. About three-quarters of respondents said red wine “helps the cardiovascular system” and “lowers your cholesterol.” Only 9% said white wine had the same benefits.
Consumers seem to be right. Red wine contains more flavonoids (antioxidant or antioxidant-like compounds) than white wine does. Repeated studies have found that the flavonoids lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Researchers also asked consumers about their wine drinking behavior.
They found consumers who were healthy were more likely to say they drank wine for health reasons than people who had health concerns. However, people with health concerns drank more wine.¹
It is hard to prove why the results are that way. However, it seems that red wine’s potential health benefits effect people’s dinking habits.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The next study looked at wine’s effect on omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s). Wine does not contain omega-3s, but there is some previous research that shows anthocyanins in wine may increase the amount of omega-3s produced in the body. Increased omega-3s result in heart health benefits.
The researchers gave participants elderberry extract instead of red wine because of its high anthocyanin content. Another group of participants acted as a control.
Researchers measured 3 types of omega-3 levels in all participants’ blood plasma. There was not a significant difference in omega-3 levels of people who took in elderberry extract versus those who did not.²
Because this study did not look at red wine, it does not mean that red wine does not have an effect on omega-3s. More likely, it means that red wine has an effect on heart health for a reason other than omega-3 fatty acids.
The last study I want to share looked not at wine itself but at the “grape-by-products” or what was leftover after the wine was made. Researchers made muffins with these by-products, mostly seeds and skin.
Unlike many other researchers, they weren’t looking at the health benefits of wine. Instead, they were concerned that baking may cause a toxin to form known as Nε-carboxymethyl lysine or CML.
What they found was that the amount of CML formed depends on a number of factors, including the type of sugar (beat sugar vs. cane sugar) and type of oil (olive, rapeseed, rice bran, or grapeseed oil) used in the muffins.
The researchers found that the levels of phenols or antioxidant-like compounds in the muffins also varied depending on those ingredients.³
After reading that baking grape-by-products may cause a toxin to form, I wasn’t sure I should have baked wine into brownies. But, remember it is only one study and my recipe does not match theirs. They used grape skins and seeds, whereas I baked with wine. They used oils, whereas I baked with butter.
Remember, this and other dessert recipes should be eaten in moderation.
Limited Evidence for 1 Glass a Day
I also went to the Evidence Analysis Library of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Unfortunately, this is not open to the public, so I cannot share the link with you.
The Evidence Analysis Library analyzed 6 studies on wine and high blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels. They concluded there is “limited” evidence to support the blood health effects of one glass of wine per day.
Although there seems to be lots of research on the topic, I agree that there is limited evidence to support drinking one glass of wine a day.
Wine, like other alcoholic beverages, should be consumed in moderation, if at all. People with certain medical conditions should not drink alcohol at all. Consult your doctor or another medical professional.
For a recipe, continue reading...
Chocolate Wine Brownies
I had some chocolate wine on hand that I wanted to use in baking. The bottle says it is “grape wine with natural flavors,” so feel free to use another wine if you don’t have chocolate wine on hand.
In fact, I couldn’t find a recipe that called for chocolate wine, so I adapted it from a red wine brownie recipe.
And, of course, you can leave the wine out entirely. In fact, I recommend leaving it out if you plan to serve this to children.
Contrary to popular belief, the alcohol does not cook off.
According to USDA research, only 60-65% will cook off when baked for 20-25 minutes, like in this recipe.*
Adapted from Butter Me Up Brooklyn
4 ounces (4 squares) semisweet baking chocolate
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut in half (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
¼ cup chocolate wine
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8”×8” pan.
In a microwave safe dish, such as a glass bowl, melt together butter and baking chocolate. (I put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds on high and then stirred until smooth. Your microwave may require more or less time.)
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir in melted chocolate and butter mixture. Stir in chocolate wine. Stir in flour and cocoa powder. Stir until smooth.
Pour batter into pan. Try to keep the batter an even level. If it’s uneven, some parts will cook faster than others.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until tester comes out clean. These will be moist, fudgy brownies. If you want a drier brownie, bake longer.
I think brownies are best served warm, but do what makes you happy.
*A lot of places attribute an “Alcohol Burn-Off Chart” to the USDA, but I cannot find it on USDA.gov.