St Paul in the first letter to Timothy exhorts him to take a little wine for his stomach. Total abstinence from alcohol was not recommended by the famous writer of the epistles, and curiously enough the benefits of wine came to light during the BBC’s famous 60 Minutes story in 1991 about the French paradox, suggesting that red wine may account for the surprisingly low incidence of heart disease in France despite the fact French cuisine is rich in fat.
The skins of red grapes contain resveratrol which has antioxidant properties. It is the fermentation process which increases the amount of resveratrol since black raisins, particularly if they are sun-dried, do not contain as much, nor does grape juice. Resveratrol acts on the following conditions :
Heart disease : resveratrol reduces inflammation by making it more difficult for platelets to stick together and form the clots that cause heart attacks.
Cancer : Resveratrol is thought to inhibit the spread of cancer cells and trigger the process of cancer cell death.
Alzheimer’s : It is thought to stop plaque forming in the brain and to protect nerve cells from damage.
Diabetes : It prevents insulin resistance.
Obesity and ageing : Researchers believe that resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene, a biological mechanism that seems to protect the body against the harmful effects of obesity and the diseases of ageing. Resveratrol appears to turn on sirtuins without placing the body under the sort of stress caused by food deprivation that normally activates these genes. Tests on yeast showed resveratrol extended its lifespan by 70%. Studies on rodents have demonstrated resveratrol has life-prolonging capacities. Mice fed a high-calorie diet lived longer when given resveratrol.
Eyesight : Scientists have discovered that resveratrol has the ability to regulate angiogenesis, the abnormal growth of blood vessels that are damaging to eyesight.
The amount of resveratrol in wine depends on the length of the fermentation process. White wine contains less because the skins are removed earlier during the production process. Because large amounts of resveratrol are difficult to absorb without drinking copious amounts of alcohol, supplements are now available on the market. The dosages in most resveratrol supplements are however typically far lower than the amounts that have been shown to be beneficial in research studies. Most supplements contain 250 to 500 milligrams of resveratrol. To get the equivalent dose used in some animal studies, people would have to consume 2 grams of resveratrol (2,000 milligrams) or more a day.
Other sources of resveratrol are dark chocolate, peanuts and blueberries.
Resveratrol content in different food and beverages: (uG 100 G), OyG/125 ML) Grapes 1,500, Red wine 625, Peanuts 150, White wine 38, Peanut butter 50, Grape juice 65, Blueberries 3, Cranberry juice 65, Raisins 0.01.
Leicester University’s resveratrol lab published a study in 2013 on resveratrol molecules bound to sulfates and glucose (the majority once inside us) and free resveratrol. It was thought the former, which are the majority, were less beneficial. Now it has been found that bound resveratrol can become “free” again once it enters a cell – and therefore more beneficial. The bound resveratrol also lasts longer in the body.
As no clinical trials involving humans have been done, its life-preserving effects have not yet been demonstrated beyond doubt. But in the meantime, it’s a great excuse for drinking red wine – in moderation.
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