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.