A STUDY has shown people who drink alcohol in moderation are 11 per cent less likely to go to hospital.
A study by Harvard University, and published in journal Addiction, found those who enjoyed a small glass of wine a day were healthier than those who avoided alcohol altogether.
The research project studied 21,000 men and women in Italy over six years and found that overall 13,000 people ended up in hospital.
The average age of those hospitalised was 56, and those who never drank alcohol were 11 per cent more likely to become ill than those who drank in moderation and followed a Mediterranean-style diet.
Dr Ken Mukamal, from the Harvard Medical School, said: “We are absolutely not saying that any teetotaller should start drinking to improve his / her health.”
However, red wine in particular in moderation has been shown to have a wide range of health benefits.
One of these benefits is caused by the high anti-oxidant rate of red wines.
The drink contains polyphenols, a group of chemicals naturally occurring in plants, which can help to prevent cellular damage by cancer-causing chemicals, such as tobacco smoke or pollution.
These in turn can improve the function of blood vessels, and help prevent blood clots, as well as potentially helping to protect the body against cancers.
White wine lovers need not fear, however, as although red wine is frequently touted as the healthiest of its competitors, white varieties also offer benefits.
These include slightly lower, but still significant, levels of antioxidants.
White wines also contain few calories than red, at around 85 calories per small 125 millilitre glass compared to 105 calories in the same amount of red wine. Finally, one festive favourite, champagne, also contains antioxidants, and at 90 calories per 125 millilitres is one of the least fattening party drinks.
Whichever your favourite, experts are quick to point out that these benefits only apply when alcohol is consumed in moderation- for example one 125 millilitre glass per day- and excessive drinking can be harmful.