We have all heard that drinking a glass of red wine in moderation may be good for our health. But now, researchers have found that drinking wine may also reduce the risk of depression, according to a study published in the journal BMC Medicine.
Researchers from Spain analyzed 2,683 men and 2,822 women over a 7-year period from the PREDIMED Trial - a study that conducts research around nutrition and cardiovascular risk.
All participants were between 55 and 80 years of age, with no history of depression or alcohol-related problems when the study began.
They were required to complete a validated 137-item food frequency questionnaire annually in order to assess their alcohol intake, and their mental health and lifestyle was analyzed throughout the study period.
Two to seven glasses of wine a week 'may reduce depression'
The findings of the study revealed that those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol (5 to 15 g a day) were less likely to suffer from depression.
Researchers say that drinking 2 to 7 glasses of wine a week may reduce the risk of depression.
Additionally, those who drank a moderate amount of wine on a weekly basis (two to seven small glasses a week), were found to have an even lower risk of depression.
The researchers say these results remained the same even when accounting for lifestyle and social factors, such as marital status, smoking and diet.
However, further findings suggest that wine consumption exceeding seven glasses a week could increase the risk of depression. The study authors add that greater alcohol consumption was more frequently attributed to males, with 88% drinking more than 15 g of alcohol each day.Previous research from the PREDIMED trial has suggested that low-moderate amounts of alcohol could protect against heart disease, and the study authors say the process may be linked:
"Unipolar depression and cardiovascular disease are likely to share some common pathophysiological mechanisms.
Moderate alcohol intake, especially alcohol from wine, has been repeatedly reported to be inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Some of the responsible mechanisms for this inverse association are likely to be involved also in a reduced risk of depression."
Rates of depression may be 'under-estimated' in heavy drinkers
Although the study authors say there are many strengths for this study, including the large sample size, they warn of some limitations.
"We are not exclusively using a clinical diagnosis of depression. Probably, we are achieving a high specificity at the expense of losing sensitivity," say the researchers.
"Moreover, there is a possibility that patterns of alcohol consumption may be associated with decisions to seek care. If heavy drinkers were less likely to seek medical care, this could result in the rates of depression being under-estimated among heavy drinkers."
Previous research has suggested that wine consumption could promote many other health benefits. A study from the University of Leicester last year found that a chemical in red wine, called resveratol, could help to prevent cancer.