You've probably heard that drinking wine may be good for your health. Studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of wine may help control blood pressure and the risks of heart disease. Wine may also reduce the risk of strokes and gallstones.

A moderate amount of wine is up to two glasses per day for men, one glass for women. Those over 65 should stick to one drink per day. Excessive drinking may lead to health problems such as cancer, stroke, fetal alcohol syndrome, and damage to the heart, pancreas, and liver.

Researchers have found that a moderate amount of ethanol increases good (HDL) cholesterol and prevents the formation of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Ethanol also prevents the formation of blood clots that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Red wine contains antioxidants, which may be helpful in preventing certain diseases. You don't need to drink wine to benefit from antioxidants, however; they're available in fruits, vegetables, and red grape juice. Red wine is also rich in polyphenols, compounds associated with heart health. Polyphenols are also found in chocolate, tea, berries, and olive oil.

So should you start drinking wine? The American Heart Association says that if you do not currently drink, you shouldn't start drinking for health benefits. You can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by exercising regularly and eating a low-fat diet. If you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, consider it only a small part of your overall health strategy.

Marlene Veloso