Scientists find clue to why red wine is healthy

By Shaveta Bansal (AHN)
Updated: 2006-11-30 17:20

Researchers from Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London have identified a key ingredient in red wines which they say likely contributes to longevity by protecting against heart disease. Although red wines are long known to have heart-healthy properties, the researchers found that the wines which in particular have higher levels of "oligomeric procyanidins" are more potent.

Dr. Roger Corder and his associated found that the levels of "oligomeric procyanidins"- a type of polyphenol - vary in different types of wines, depending on where and how they're produced.

They noted that people in southwest France and Sardinia, where traditional winemaking is still practiced and grapes rich in flavonoids are used to produce wine, tend to live longer.

The longevity of the people in the region was traced to the presence of higher levels of oligomeric procyanidins in the red wine they drink.

To investigate which particular polyphenol had the protective effect on heart, researchers cultured human blood vessel cells and exposed them to 165 different wines. They found that procyanidins suppressed production of a protein called endothelin-1 that constricts blood vessels. High-performance liquid chromatography identified oligomeric procyanidins as the specific phenolic constituent responsible for this effect.

Corder and his associates hope that further investigation of oligomeric procyanidins-rich wines and foods will provide insight into how blood vessel function might be optimally maintained.

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