A small study out of Spain has found that red wine can help stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
For their research, scientists recruited 10 healthy, middle-aged men who underwent three different phases: in the first 20-day period, participants were given 9 ounces of Merlot; in the second, they were given 9 ounces of low-alcohol red wine; and the last, about 3 ounces of gin, reports medical site WebMd.com.
After collecting blood, urine and stool samples at the end of each period, researchers observed that men showed an increased percentage of beneficial gut bacteria in the lining of their intestines when they were put on both regular and low-alcohol red wine.
The presence of healthy gut bacteria helps the body digest food and regulate the immune function.
The reason for the men's improved health? Scientists hypothesize it's red wine's polyphenols, plant-based compounds that have been touted for their anti-oxidant properties.
Other foods high in polyphenols include coffee, tea and chocolate and brightly colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries, raspberries, kale and broccoli.
In April, researchers from Purdue University claimed they had found a compound in red wine, grapes, blueberries and passion fruit that blocks immature fat cells' ability to develop and grow called piceatannol, an element they said could play a role in controlling obesity.