Is wine a fruit serving?

Dear Alice,

Since wine is made of grapes, can wine (which is just fermented grape juice) be a serving of fruit? Obviously, you shouldn't get all of your fruit servings of fruit from wine, but if you have one glass of wine per day, one or two days per week, would the wine fulfill one serving of fruit for that day?

Five a day

Dear Five a day,

Maintaining a well-balanced diet, as well as eating plenty of fruits and veggies, can help keep you healthy, strong, and energetic. As you mentioned in your question, given that wine is just fermented grapes, it feels like you could get one serving of fruit from it. However, while wine may have similar benefits with its younger incarnation, it doesn't quite act like a fruit serving the way grapes would!

Both grape juice and red wine contain resveratrol, which is a plant-based compound that may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which some research suggests can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (the cholesterol that can increase the risk of heart disease) and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the cholesterol that clears out LDL. Additionally, it's been suggested that drinking either grape juice or red wine can reduce the risk of blood clots, protect blood vessels, and help to maintain healthy blood pressure. However, these benefits are less evident in white or rosé wines as red wine is fermented with the grape skins for longer than the other wines, thus allowing it to contain more resveratrol and antioxidants.

While this may start to sound like a big thumbs up for red wine, fruit has other nutrients, such as fiber, live enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, that just aren't present in wine. Moreover, many of these nutrients are also not present in juice either, meaning that you'd have to eat the fruit itself to get all of them. In addition to not containing all the nutritional value of fruit, wine also contains alcohol, which can put stress on the liver, pancreas, and nerve cells over time. Heavy drinkers are also at risk for malnutrition, as alcohol may serve as a caloric substitute for more nutritious foods, such as fruit!

For people in good health, regular and moderate wine drinking is usually fine, and can even offer some health benefits too. However, the potential health benefits aren't a reason to start drinking if you don't already. Studies show that occasional and binge drinkers have a higher mortality rates than those who drink moderately on a regular basis. There are also some people who would do best to stay away from wine altogether, as those who manage substance use disorder, liver disease, pancreatitis, uncontrolled hypertension, depression, or heart disease may worsen their conditions by drinking alcohol.

The somber news for the cabernet-lovers is that while wine can be good for you if you're already healthy and drink moderately and regularly, the best way to fulfill your five-a-day fruit requirement is still through the good old-fashioned way of, well, eating fruit.

If you'd like more nutrition advice, you could try making an appointment with a registered dietitian, as they can best tell you how to tailor your diet in order to meet all of your daily servings and nutritional requirements!

Bon appétit!

Last updated Oct 15, 2021
Originally published Feb 20, 2009

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