"I could not live without Champagne - in victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it."
Winston Spencer Churchill

Champagne is good for your health!

As a food expert with knowledge of inflammatory foods I know that most people do very well with champagne and dry white wines. Red wines are not so well tolerated because they have much higher levels of histamine as well as the poorly tolerated tannins. Spirits and beers are even more problematic because of their yeast content. As Champagne is also yeast-free it makes it the king of alcoholic drinks in my estimation.

Champagne is packed with polyphenols, which are antioxidants from the grapes. (Polyphenols reduce the loss of nitric oxide from the blood - see below). They help protect your brain and your heart, keep your blood pressure low, and increase the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain. If you want to avoid the Chrstmas hangover, insist on the best, drink Champagne!

There are other plants that have some of the same compounds you can find in champagne. Cacao has them, for example, but cocoa is not the same as the raw food cacao which has a bitterness to it indicative of high polyphenols. Anyway, a cup of hot chocolate isn’t as much fun as a glass of champagne.

Don’t be put off by the fact that champagne is pale unlike red wine. The polyphenols are definitely there.

Champagne gives you the same amount of antioxidant heart protection as red wine, and much more than blueberries and most fruits, increasing heart muscle energy production, and protecting your heart’s cells from free radical damage.ref 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.ref 2

Better than Viagra, it tastes great plus you probably won’t get the dark circles under your eyes: PLUS it is the most forgiving alcoholic drink for women! 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 that free radicals can cause, even if you only drink a small amount of champagne.ref 3

Champagne also releases beneficial neurotransmitters, like “feel good” dopamine. These help you to move around, think positively, and experience pleasure.ref 4

Champagne improves digestion which the French have known 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.ref 5

As you know, many studies have shown that drinking moderately each day can help you be healthier and live longer. I believe these statistics only apply to high end, quality wines which 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.

A note of caution here: the 3 beneficial phenolic acids were tyrosol, caffeic acid and gallic acid. 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 then champagne is not for you, along with most other alcoholic drinks.

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

For a more critical analysis of this research please go to this NHS web site http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/12December/Pages/champagne-good-for-your-heart-claim.aspx