You wrote a while back that a person can drink wine and still lose weight. I can’t imagine drinking wine and waking up lighter on the scale. How is it that you can make such a claim?

— Janet G., e-mail

Not only have I personally experienced a reduction in body-fat percentage while drinking wine, but many of my weight loss clients have successfully reduced their waistlines. Matter of fact, there are many studies that report a small reduction in weight for women who drink wine in moderation.

Before I continue sharing the good news about wine, however, let me make it clear that in no way am I saying that you should start drinking alcohol if you presently do not. Truth be known: You can get many of the health benefits associated with wine by drinking non-alcoholic purple grape juice. Also, recommendations to consume moderate amounts of wine are limited to individuals with a clean bill of health. It is clear that people with medical and social conditions worsened by alcohol should not consume any alcohol at all.

Wine with benefits

Past the benefits of a little relaxation, wine is typically packed with antioxidants, called flavonoids. It’s these flavonoids that scientists attribute to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Case in point, wine in moderation helps to reduce the production of low density lipoprotein (LDL) (unhealthy cholesterol), boost high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (healthy cholesterol) and reduces blood clotting, to name a few.

Before you rush out and purchase a bottle of wine, however, it helps to know that not all wines are created equal when it comes to getting a flavonoid boost. The highest concentrations of flavonoids are found in cabernet sauvignon, followed closely by petite syrah and pinot noir. White wine has significantly smaller a-mounts than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is that the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids.

Defining moderation

You can drink wine and wake up with a smaller waistline. However, the amount of wine consumed can prove helpful or harmful. If you drink moderately, there are studies that point to longevity and reduced risk for heart disease. On the other hand, if you engage in heavy drinking you may not only bring your weight loss efforts to a halt, but increase your risk of cirrhosis of the liver, breast cancer and other health problems. The key word is moderation.

It’s true that you can prove just about anything with statistics. However, there is so much evidence that supports a glass of wine with dinner is beneficial that even the United States Dietary Guidelines advises moderation, which is defined as no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.

Lastly, if you are in the weight-loss process, keep your consumption of wine to one five-ounce glass with dinner. If you have a glass of wine past dinner, be sure to enjoy it with an ounce of dark chocolate, which is also packed with flavonoids.

So here’s a toast to your health! Cheers!