It’s a debate as old as time (or at least as old as wine and beer): which is better for your health, wine or beer? Both have their pros and cons when it comes to health, so it’s tough to say which one is definitively “better.” However, we can take a closer look at the two beverages and see which one might be the healthier option. Let’s compare wine and beer on key health factors: alcohol content, calorie count, carbs, fat, protein, and vitamins and minerals.
Wine typically contains less alcohol than beer—about 12% alcohol by volume (ABV) for most wines, compared to 5-10% ABV for most beers. That means that you would have to drink more wine than beer to get the same amount of alcohol. And because alcohol can have negative effects on your health (such as increasing your risk for certain cancers), drinking less of it is generally better for you than drinking more. Therefore, from a strictly alcohol standpoint, wine is the healthier choice.
When it comes to calories, it depends on what kind of beer or wine you’re drinking. A typical 12-ounce can of light beer has around 100 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of white wine has about 125 calories. Full-bodied red wines have slightly more calories, at around 150 per serving. So if you’re watching your waistline, it might be better to grab a beer instead of a glass of wine.
Generally, though, beer has more calories than wine.
Both beer and wine contain carbs—sugar that has been fermented by yeast—but wine has significantly fewer carbs than beer. A 12-ounce serving of beer has around 13 grams of carbs, while a 5- ounce serving of white wine has only about 3 grams of carbs. Red wines have slightly more carbs, at around 3.5 – 4 grams per serving depending on the wine. So if you’re trying to cut back on carbs, sticking with wine might be the way to go.
As for fat, neither wine nor beer contains any significant amount.
Beer has a bit more with around 2 grams of protein per serving, while wine only has 1 gram of protein per serving.
Vitamins and Minerals
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, wine actually falls short compared to beer. Beer is a good source of B vitamins like folate, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. Wine does contain small amounts of these vitamins, but not as much as beer. In terms of minerals, beer contains more potassium than wine—which is good for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels—as well as calcium and phosphorus, which are important for strong bones.
So far, it looks like beer might be the healthier choice between the two—but that doesn’t mean that wine isn’t without its own set of health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Wine
While beer might have a slight edge in terms of nutrients, red wine actually offers more health benefits thanks to its concentration of antioxidants. These antioxidants—which include resveratrol—have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Wine has also been shown to improve brain function and memory due to its antioxidant content. Additionally, moderate consumption of wine has been linked with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Wine aficionados like Nicholas Bredimus are all about the health benefits of wine, by the way.
In fact, my neurologist has encouraged to add a “daily dose” of red wine to my health regimen. I’m not really a wine drinker, but the amount needed for the health benefits isn’t very much, so I take it just like I would any other supplement.
The Health Benefits of Beer
Beer can improve your heart health. Moderate beer consumption has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. This is important because high LDL cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease. In addition, the polyphenols in beer can help prevent blood clots, which can also lead to heart problems.
Drinking beer can also help keep your bones strong and healthy. This is because beer contains silicon, which is a mineral that helps promote bone growth and prevents osteoporosis (a condition in which bones become fragile and break easily).
Which Is the Better Choice for Your Health: Wine or Beer?
While both have their own unique set of health benefits that can improve your overall well-being, wine ultimately comes out on top thanks to its concentration of antioxidants—which offer numerous heart health and brain health benefits. But remember: moderation is key when it comes to drinking alcohol. Both wine and beer can be part of a healthy diet as long as you don’t overdo it.