WINE 101: More health benefits of wine

In a previous article, I discussed how red wine was improving my health and some studies that showed why. Now it seems there are even more health benefits to moderate wine consumption, due to the miracle potential of reveratrol.

Resveratrol, the miracle compound

A study set to appear in the July 2010 issue of The American Journal of Pathology shows that resveratrol, the miracle compound found in the skins of red wine not only protects cardiovascular blood vessels, but the blood vessels of the eyes as well. Dr. Rajendra Apte and his team, who carried out the research at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, found that resveratrol protects against abnormal angiogenesis — the formation of damaged or mutated blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

“Blind Drunk” Given New Meaning: Resveratrol Linked to Eye Disease Prevention

The protectant factor in resveratrol could lead to new treatment for macular degeneration and other diseases associated with abnormal angiogenesis, such as cancer and heart disease. It seems that resveratrol, the compound that grapes, blueberries and peanuts produce to ward off fungal infections, is helpful in warding off a variety of diseases in people as well.

A 2008 study found that small doses of resveratrol in middle-aged mice mimicked a restricted caloric intake and thus had similar health effects such as cardiovascular protection. These studies show that resveratrol has potential to protect against a number of diseases, especially those related to age, but more studies need to be performed on human subjects to determine the amount of resveratrol needed to gain these effects.

How much in a glass?

The amount of resveratrol in wine varies depending on the type of grape, the contact with skins during fermentation, the region of the grape and the grape’s exposure to fungal infections. Based on this information, it may one day be possible to engineer wines that yield more resveratrol and have better impact on human health. Studies have shown this miracle compound is actually absorbed through the skin from the wine’s contact with the lining of the mouth, rather than through the digestive system and blood. Experts advise that red wine be sipped slowly and held in the mouth to gain maximum absorption.

Experts advise that red wine be sipped slowly and held in the mouth the gain maximum absorption.

Always in moderation

As always, wine studies note that it is important to limit red wine consumption to a moderate level (1-2 glasses per day) in order to see health benefits that outweigh the risks of too much alcohol consumption. Resveratrol is found in red wines that have been fermented with their skins, since the compound is found on the wine skins themselves.

This most recent study is just one more reason for wine lovers to rejoice in the fact that something so enjoyable can also help ward off eye disease.

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