Health Secrets of Red Wine

red wineWe all know that moderate consumption of red wine is good for the health benefits. Scientists are now finding out why.

Recent studies are discovering the disease-fighting properties of the polyphenol called resveratrol, one of the compounds in red wine that appears to improve health.

Though scientists have long known that polyphenols, particularly resveratrol, are beneficial to our health, they weren’t sure just how worked in the body.

"The breadth of benefits is remarkable – cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases, such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more," said Lindsay Brown, an associate professor of the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia and co-author of a study that will appear in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

According to Brown, scientists are beginning to grasp how resveratrol functions. Its possible mechanisms include:

High doses of the compound may prevent cancer by increasing the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Low doses improve cardiac health by increasing cellular protection and reducing damage.

Resveratrol may help remove very reactive oxidants in the body and improve blood supply to cells.

Scientists are also observing how the body absorbs resveratrol into the blood stream, "since the compound is largely inactive in the gut and the liver.

"Most of the resveratrol in imbibed red wine does not reach the circulation," Stephen Taylor, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Queensland, said in a journal news release. "Interestingly, absorption via the mucous membranes in the mouth can result in up to around 100 times the blood levels, if done slowly rather than simply gulping it down."

Source: health.com; Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, news release, June 2009