I’m noted for being on record with the BBC as saying “Champagne is a whole food; there’s nothing in the bottle but grapes and bubbles!”
Now science is backing up what I said!
Over the years, I’ve been so far ahead of the curve, often decades ahead, that I have invented my “I Told ‘Em!” column.
In 1985 I was interviewed by the BBC and am on record as saying “Champagne is good for you. It’s a whole food! There is nothing in the bottle but grapes and bubbles.”
It was a joke, of course. But still true, nonetheless. As a food expert with a knowledge of inflammatory foods I knew that most people do very well with champagne and dry white wines. Red wines are not so good, because they have much higher levels of histamine, as well as the poorly tolerated tannins.
Spirits and beers are not so good at all.
But champagne is king of the health drinks!
Champagne is packed with polyphenols, which are antioxidants from the grapes. They help protect your brain and your heart, keep your blood pressure low, and increase the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.
There are other plants that have some of the same compounds you can find in champagne. Cocoa has them, for example… but a cup of hot chocolate somehow doesn’t seem as fun as a glass of champagne.
Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s not colored, like red wine. The polyphenols are there anyway, trust me!
As it turns out, champagne is very healthy.
Champagne gives you the same amount of antioxidant heart protection as red wine, and way more than blueberries and most fruits, increasing heart muscle energy production, and protecting your heart’s cells from free radical damage.1
The British Journal of Nutrition published a study that looked at whether or not champagne improves arterial health and it definitely does. They gave people two glasses of champagne to drink, and found that champagne boosts nitric oxide. That’s the compound that relaxes your blood vessels and lowers your blood pressure and also improves erectile function. And the effect lasts for up to eight hours.2
Better than Viagra then! It tastes great and you don’t get the blue rings in the eyes: PLUS she can drink it too!A different study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the antioxidants in the phenolic acids also protect your brain against the damage to your brain that free radicals can cause. Also, they protect you even if you only drink a small amount of champagne.3
A note of caution here: the 3 beneficial phenolic acids were tyrosol, caffeic acid and gallic acid. Now I know form vast experience that a small percentage of people can react to these and that’s why a few people get headaches and don’t feel well on champagne. If you are one of those unlucky few, just forget about champagne, of course!
Champagne also releases beneficial neurotransmitters, like “feel good” dopamine. These help you to move around, think positively, and experience pleasure.4
Champagne improves digestion but of course the French knew that, all along. A German study compares spirits, like vodka, with wines and champagne and found that wines and champagnes increased helpful digestive acid by as much as 95%, whereas spirits had no effect.5
As you know, many studies have shown that drinking moderately each day can help you be healthier and live longer. I think these statistics only really apply to wines which, as I said, are really a whole food.Spirits and beers have no benefit and you should stay away from them altogether.
Of course there are other sparkling wines that can most or all of these health benefits. These include Spanish cava, Italian spumante and California has some great sparkling wines
1 Dudley, J.I., Lekli, I., Mukherjee, S. et al, “Does white wine qualify for French paradox?” J. Agric. Food Chem. Oct. 22, 2008;56(20):9362-73
2 Vauzour, David, et al, “Moderate Champagne consumption promotes an acute improvement in acute endothelial-independent vascular function in healthy human volunteers,” British Journal of Nutrition 2010; Volume 103, Issue 08
3 Vauzour, David, et al, “Champagne Wine Polyphenols Protect Primary Cortical Neurons against Peroxynitrite-Induced Injury,” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2007;55(8)2854–2860
4 Boyer, J.C., Bancel, E., Perray, P.F., et al, “Effect of champagne compared to still white wine on peripheral neurotransmitter concentrations,” Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. Sept. 2004;74(5):321-8
5 Teyssen, S., Lenzing, T., González-Calero, G., et al, “Alcoholic beverages produced by alcoholic fermentation but not by distillation are powerful stimulants of gastric acid secretion in humans,” Gut Jan. 1997; 40(1):49–56