Recent research has shown that regular red wine drinkers tend to be slimmer than white wine drinkers and even some non-drinkers, as well as having lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Is it too good to be true? If it is so that a regular glass of red is the key to a fitter, slimmer future, then how? We’ve been told for decades that alcohol is fattening, that it can damage our hearts and cause other health problems. What is this magic?

Red wine lowers heart risks in the long term

Alcohol does cause blood pressure to rise slightly and blood platelets to become stickier, these effects are short-lived, however. In the long-term, moderate amounts of alcohol – red wine in particular – causes rises in the body’s HDL (high-density lipids, or “good” cholesterol). A glass of red wine a night, then, actually reduces the lifetime risk of heart attacks and strokes.

It turns bad fat into good

This may sound like alchemy, but it seems to be true! A compound in red wine – resveratrol – performs this miraculous feat. In the body, white fat is for energy storage. All those extra calories get deposited there, just in case there’s a famine. We also have so-called “brown fat”, which is a lot more active than white, and resveratrol has the ability to turn white fat cells into brown fat. Brown fat burns itself up to keep us warm, and the more brown fat we have, the leaner (and warmer) we are.

It can stop white fat from forming at all

Just as useful in the fight against flab is piceatannol. A 2012 study in Korea found that this compound, found in red grapes, can prevent white fat cells from maturing. Piceatannol is similar in structure to resveratrol and, like its cousin, is also found in other brightly-colored fruits and berries. This research means that you now have the perfect excuse for that nightly tipple – but remember, everything in moderation!