Moderate consumption of beer, red wine and spirits has counteracting effects on plasma antioxidants in middle-aged men

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jul;54(7):586-91. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601061.


Objective: To evaluate the in vivo effects of moderate consumption of red wine, beer and spirits on antioxidants, antioxidant enzymes and antioxidant capacity.

Design: Randomized, diet-controlled, cross-over study.

Subjects: Twelve apparently healthy, non-smoking middle-aged men were included; 11 of them completed the study.

Interventions: Each subject consumed four glasses of red wine, beer, spirits and water (negative control) with evening dinner during four successive periods of 3 weeks, daily at the Institute. The total diet was supplied to the subjects and had essential the same composition during these 12 weeks.

Results: Neither the enzyme activities of serum glutathion peroxidase, erythrocyte glutathion reductase and superoxide dismutase nor the plasma concentrations of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, lutein, zeaxantin, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and alpha-carotene were affected. Plasma beta-carotene concentrations were decreased after 3 weeks' consumption of red wine, beer and spirits (40 g alcohol/day) as compared to consumption of water, by 15% (P=0.0005), 11% (P=0.010) and 13% (P=0.003), respectively. Also, plasma ascorbic acid was decreased after beer (15%, P=0.004) and spirits (12%, P=0.030), but not after wine consumption. Serum uric acid concentrations were increased after consumption of beer (15%, P<0.0001), spirits (8%, P=0.008) and red wine (9%, P=0.003). The overall serum antioxidant capacity, assessed as Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), was similar for all treatments.

Conclusions: Moderate consumption of red wine, beer and spirits has counteracting effects on plasma antioxidant components, resulting in no significant effect on overall antioxidant status. The effects on antioxidant parameters are largely independent of the type of alcoholic beverage, and probably irrelevant to chronic disease risk.

Sponsorship: Dutch Foundation for Alcohol Research (SAR).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood*
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood
  • Glutathione Reductase / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Superoxide Dismutase / blood
  • Uric Acid / blood
  • Vitamin E / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E
  • Uric Acid
  • Carotenoids
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione Reductase
  • Ascorbic Acid