Scientists knew the therapeutic value of wine, especially red wine, for some time. Now they have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt their theory was correct.
Several independent research teams in different countries have proved the superior therapeutic value of red wine due to their high polyphenol content. Polyphenols act as antioxidants to pathogenic cells that result from stress.
Full-bodied red wines contain approximately four grams (approximately 1/5th of an ounce) of polyphenols per litre, whereas white wines only 1/10th of red wines,
Red wines form complex polyphenols during fermentation and aging. Tannins (a complex group of harsh-tasting and gritty acids) make up 35 percent of polyphenols, and antocyanin pigments (the colour) 20 percent. The skin of red grapes, stems and pips contain high degrees of tannin, as do oak barrels in which many red wines are aged for varying lengths of time.
Since, white wines lack tannins and colour, their polyphenol content is much lower.
American doctors conducted a study in 1998 and found that blood antioxidant levels of volunteers consuming half a bottle of red wine per day for two weeks increased significantly, whereas those in the control group drinking the same amount of white wine showed no difference . Similar results were recorded after a study of 44 young men in Chile.
Professor F Leighton, a researcher and lecturer at Universidad Catolica de Chile, in Casilla, fed a group a high-fat diet similar to those in industrialized western countries for three weeks.
Subsequently, the same diet was supplemented with 250ml of white wine. The effects showed a tiny difference (plus nine percent) of HDL (high density lipoproteins) but showed a significant improvement when the same amount of red wine complemented the same diet, (the HDL level increased by 14 percent). When additional dark green and red vegetables and fruits were given, the increase of HDL improved another 5 percent. High fat diets are known to increase oxidative damage to the DNA. Daily moderate red wine consumption lowers the oxidative damage by 50 percent, whereas white wine only by 16 percent. Vegetables and fruits tend to reduce DNA damage by 42 percent.
Since free flow of blood is good for health, professor Leighton measured changes in the capacity of volunteers’ blood vessels to affect any change. Red wine markedly enlarged the arterial diameter of vessels, improving their arterial health. Ripe dark-coloured fruits and vegetables had the same effect as red wine.
Moderate red wine consumption (250 ml per day), and additional servings of fruits ands vegetables lower cardiovascular risk.
French researchers have been stating such findings for years and the lower rates of cardiovascular disease in the French population provides additional proof that enjoying red wine, particularly Pinot Noir, is good for you, especially since it contains resveratrol, a substance preventing damage to the heart.