Beer or Wine Drinkers: Who's Healthier?

ByABC News
January 19, 2006, 3:07 PM

Jan. 19, 2006 — -- Wine drinkers have long been known to have lower rates of heart disease. But do the health benefits of wine come from the wine itself? Or are wine drinkers just healthy eaters in general?

This mystery has led many nutrition researchers to take apart and analyze the chemicals in the grape and its fermented fluid in hopes of uncovering a molecule that might answer that question.

But an analysis of more than 3.5 million grocery store transactions suggests that it may be less about the wine itself and more about the daily diet of wine drinkers in general that helps them stay healthy.

According to a study in today's issue of the British Medical Journal, wine drinkers tend to buy more olives, fruit, vegetables, poultry, cooking oil, low-fat cheese, milk and meat than beer buyers. Beer drinkers purchased more premade meals, sugar, cold cuts, pork, butter, sausages and soft drinks.

The purchases, made at 98 different supermarkets in Denmark, "support findings from the United States, Denmark and France showing that wine drinkers tend to eat fruit, vegetables and fish, and use cooking oil more often and saturated fat less often than those who prefer other alcoholic drinks," the authors state in the report.