The evidence is compelling that red wine has health benefits.
Most interesting is the observation that resveratrol found in red wine improves the overall health and substantially prolongs the life of fungi, fish and mice.
It's a phytoalexin found in high concentrations in red grape skin that helps fight infections by fungi and certain bacteria.
The molecule is thought to be an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from powerful oxidants that are produced during normal metabolism.
Already called an anti-aging drug, the mechanism, by which it prolongs life in animals, is unknown.
Alcohol in moderation also has health benefits. Over 60 research studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of a heart attack.
The benefits only occur if no more than one or two drinks are consumed daily. Any more and the risks of heart attacks and death increases.
Much of the initial information comes from the intriguing observation that despite the fact that the saturated fat content of the French diet is much higher than the average American diet, paradoxically the prevalence of heart attacks is half that found in the U.S.
This reduced risk cannot be explained by lower cholesterol, more exercise, less stress or less obesity among the French. Careful analysis of all factors that could explain the difference pointed to the increased consumption of alcohol and red wine.
Resveratrol isn't the only compound in wine with health benefits. Antioxidants called polyphenols that are found in high concentrations in grape skin are believed to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
The highest amounts of polyphenols are in Cabernets and in wines from France as compared to other countries.
Fats that become oxidized are much more likely to accumulate in the wall of arteries leading to plaques. Not only do polyphenol prevent fat deposition, but also prevent blood clotting by impairing the ability of platelets to stick to damaged arteries and causing a blood clot.
These antioxidants also appear to reduce inflammation in blood vessels decreasing cholesterol deposition and the risk of spasm of a partial blockage of an artery occurs.
Recently, a substance called saponin found in red wine has been shown to raise the good or HDL cholesterol and modestly reduce the bad or LDL cholesterol.
Saponin binds cholesterol and prevents its absorption into the bloodstream from the bowel. Some maintain that saponin is the most potent agent in red wine protecting the heart — and its concentration is highest in California Zinfandels.
Whenever a dietary effect is found to exert a health effect, the compounds thought to be responsible are purified and offered in health food stores in massive doses.
Of course, if a little is good, a lot must be better. Already, Dr. David Sinclair, a researcher at Harvard, recommends taking large doses of resveratrol in tablet form in the hope of reducing the risk of heart attacks, improving health and prolonging life.
His rational is based on the fact that the doses of resveratrol required to prolong life in mice were a 1,000 fold higher than that found in two glasses of wine.
While research studies are underway to find out if resveratrol in varying doses prolongs life or prevents disease, to date no benefits of large doses have been reported in man.
And it's still too early to know if large doses are truly safe. And remember this, while a little Vitamin C, A and E in natural foods has been shown to have health benefits in man, so-called massive or mega doses do the exact opposite; instead of helping they increase the risk of heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer’s and shorten life expectancy.
They, too, are antioxidants with a similar mechanism of action to resveratrol.
In talking to many friends who are true wine enthusiasts, they all recommend moderation and emphasize the importance of the true pleasure of enjoying a good wine with a meal.
The evidence is compelling that two glasses of wine with a meal has significant health benefits.
Wellaholic retails our W+ Resveratrol which contains 200mg of trans-resveratrol for your daily supplementary needs. Preferably to be taken just before you go to bed.
[Source: The Baxter Bulletin]