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The Hidden Health Benefits of Red Wine- Resveratrol

Aug 18, 2008
There has been a long standing debate on the health benefits of consuming moderate amounts of alcohol. Specifically in regards to red wine, it may not be the alcohol that is gaining so much attention as the resveratrol that is in the red wine.

While resveratrol can be found in plants such as peanuts, mulberries, eucalyptus, spruce, and lily, resveratrol is most abundant in grapes used to make wine. Vitis vinifera, muscadine, and labrusca grapes have the most abundant natural sources of resveratrol. Resveratrol can be found in the vines, roots, stalks, and seeds of the plants, but the highest concentration is found in the skins.

The amount of resveratrol contained in the wine is related to the length of time the grape skins are present during the fermentation process. That's why the concentration of reseveratrol is much higher in red wine than in white wine where the juice is pressed from the grapes and the skins are removed early in the wine making process. Since grape juice is not a fermented beverage it is not a significant source of resveratrol.

Resveratrol is produced as part of a plants defense system and is an antibiotic to protect the plant against disease. Interestingly, higher concentrations of resveratrol are found in grapes grown in cooler climates where fungal infections are much more common.

The Japanese and Chinese have been using the active ingredient of resveratrol as a traditional treatment for human fungal, inflammatory, lipid, allergic, and hypertensive diseases for decades, but the health benefits of resveratrol in red wine have only came to the attention to the scientific community in recent years as a possible explanation for the 'French Paradox'.

You see, the French have a high saturated fat diet, but a very low incidence of heart disease. Red wine, due to the grape skins, is thought to be the answer to this anomaly. Resveratrol is now being researched as a powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer agent. To date, there are no long term clinical studies to determine the health benefits of consuming red wine, but combined with the well documented benefits to moderate continual alcohol intake, there doesn't appear to be a health risk associated with resveratrol in red wine.

Before you run out and start buying cases of red wine as a cure for heart disease remember that there can be too much of a good thing. The American Heart Association suggests 1-2 glasses of alcohol per day is the optimal amount to reduce the risk of heart disease. More than two glasses of alcohol per day pose long term health risks that far outweigh any potential health benefits that can be obtained with resveratrol as an antioxidant or anti-cancer agent.

A Toast! To the many good things that can be found in a bottle of Red Wine.
About the Author
JC McDowell is the editor of BEST HEALTH TODAY an online health and wellness newsletter. Daily health tips inform and engage readers on staying healthy and active.
Find out more about the health benefits of Red Wine at
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