We hear a lot of conflicting thoughts about drinking. On the one hand, alcohol consumption can put a strain on your liver function and is believed to contribute to certain forms of cancer. On the other hand, doctors say that alcohol in moderation helps you relax and relieve stress, which is crucial for a healthy mind and body.

But according to a new study by the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, a glass of wine at night can actually help in preventing such things as cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, and even help you live longer.

Now, before you go nuts and start chugging Merlot like there ain’t no tomorrow, reread that last sentence very carefully. A glass of red wine helps those things. A, as in one glass with dinner. Not ten. So, yeah, while it’s pretty rad that red wine might now officially be considered good for you, it only applies when consumed in real moderation.

Red Wine 2
(Photo: Flickr/Sophie)

In the study, 224 people who weren’t current wine drinkers were told to drink five ounces a night of either mineral water, dry white wine, or dry red wine every night, while also following a calorie-restricted Mediterranean-style diet. They did this for two years, filling out questionnaires along the way and having blood drawn at both six months and two years in to get a look at glycemic control, lipids, and liver function.

At the end, it was found that those who drank either red or white wine enjoyed better sleep quality than those who chose water (suckers!). But only those who drank red wine had increased levels of good HDL cholesterol and better cholesterol ratio, as well as a significant drop in elements of what’s known as metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol. The researchers also found no adverse effects within this group.

So what’s at play here? Well, in part, it’s that red wine is high in antioxidants like resveratrol, which those in the red wine group had at levels 13 times higher than the other participants. It’s also the fact that the wine is consumed with a meal, which helps avoid the post-eating blood sugar spike, which in turn lowers inflammation—a root cause of everything from diabetes to dementia. Drinking wine with your food helps your body absorb those sugars better, so they don’t get dumped right into your blood stream.

Of course, all of these benefits are increased further by eating things like fish and vegetables and skipping fatty or sugary desserts. But that’s all worth it if you’re able to raise a glass and toast to the fact that that vino is actually improving your life.

[via Time]