If you’ve recently quit sugar or are considering taking it off the menu, but are worried about having to ditch your Friday-night wine with dinner – fear not! Here's why you don’t have to give up wine when you ditch sugar.
Wine has a low sugar content.
You may be surprised to hear that wine has near negligible amounts of fructose – which is the visceral-fat building part of sugar – and that’s because it gets fermented into alcohol. The result? A comparatively low-sugar drink that puts cocktails to shame; it’s not just the alcohol that stacks on the kilos, it’s the fructose packed into some of these drinks you’ll find at the bar.
On the low-sugar end of the scale, vodka soda and regular beer take the cake with 0 grams of sugar per serve, while prosecco and pino grigio also make for a good choice, coming in at 1 and 1.5 grams per serve, respectively. On the other end of the scale, we've got the sugar-laden rum and coke, which packs a whopping 27 grams of sugar. Baileys and your classic gin and tonic follow close behind at 18 and 20 grams in a single glass.
Dry wine, on the other hand, only has around 1 gram of sugar per standard glass – that’s around 4% of our daily recommended intake. Red wine has lower fructose levels than white wine, though, so if you’re quitting sugar, go for the burgundy. Champagne, while undergoing a similar fermentation process, maintains more of the fructose from the grapes, so this one might not be your drink of choice when quitting sugar. A dry, red wine comes out on top for a low or no-sugar diet.
Plus, it’s easier to stay on track with your health journey when you can still indulge in some of the little things. Quitting sugar can be hard, and a glass of wine with dinner once or twice a week is a safe way to enjoy those small pleasures.
Just don’t overdo it.
It’s true that fructose is one of the major drivers of disease as – unlike glucose, which is absorbed into the small intestine and used by our bodies for energy – it cannot be broken down by the body and instead requires the liver to metabolise it. If we consume too much fructose, we can overwhelm the liver and as a result, conditions ranging from heart disease to fatty liver disease may develop. Affecting around a quarter of the population, the latter is projected to become the become the leading cause of cirrhosis. Even kids aren’t exempt, with one study finding 12% have the condition.
So, while it’s a good sign that wine is low in fructose, we all know that alcohol isn’t exactly risk-free. It takes the cake for causing the other kind of fatty liver disease, and this is because alcohol is also metabolised by the liver. Research shows that drinking a large amount of alcohol, even if it’s only for a few days, can cause a build up of visceral fat.
Also, it’s no secret that alcohol has a habit of dulling our inhibitions, so if you’re struggling with sugar cravings, going hard on the burgundy might shake your resolve.
Just be sure to keep your intake to a minimum, and you can still enjoy some of those antioxidants red wine is known for: polyphenols. These strengthen the lining of your blood vessels and fight inflammation. Of course, if you’re steering clear of booze, strawberries, green tea and broccoli all pack in a good dose of antioxidants – without the alcohol, of course.
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