Understanding the health benefits of moderate consumption of red wine

Previous epidemiological studies suggested that alcohol, and therefore wine, beer, and spirits, was the compound responsible for the putative health benefits through its negative effects, such as alcoholism and social impacts, Impaired cognitive development, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), and increased risk of breast cancer in women are indisputable.

In moderate consumption, alcohol has been shown to increase the amount of tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator, a substance that catalyzes the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin, the main enzyme responsible for clot breakdown. And in the issue of May 31, 2009, wine viewer cites research from Stanford University stating that aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2) enzymes process alcohol and “remove toxic byproducts created by the breakdown of fats in cells during a heart attack. The removal of byproducts prevents further damage to heart cells.”

Although alcohol plays a favorable role, more recent studies have shown that red wine provides greater protection against disease, and therefore that there are other important health compounds in red wine that are not found in white wine, beer, or spirit drinks. These healthy compounds belong to a class of compounds known as polyphenols of which there are two types in red wine: non-flavonoids and flavonoids. The word “flavonoid” is derived from the Latin flavonewhich means “yellow” and not “flavor”, which tends to confuse people.

Non-flavonoids include stilbene polyphenols (also known as stilbenoids) such as resveratrol from grape pulp and hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acid derivatives such as gallotannins and ellagitannins found in oak-aged wines. Gallotannins and ellagitannins are better known as hydrolyzable tannins and are copolymers of gallic and ellagic acids and glucose, respectively.

Until recently, resveratrol (3,5,4′-trihydroxystilbene) was believed to be the main compound responsible for the health attributes of red wine. However, modern quantification methods reveal that the amount of resveratrol in wine is too low, particularly in wines processed with fining agents such as PVPP, to have any major health consequences on its own. But a resveratrol-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and wine has been linked, along with a healthy lifestyle, to longevity in humans according to Dr. Joseph Maroon, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and author of The longevity factor. He has extensively studied Dr. David Sinclair’s research on the subject. Sinclair is Director of the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard Medical School and a leading researcher in the biology of longevity. His team recently demonstrated in laboratory experiments that resveratrol has life-prolonging activity not only in normal mice but also in obese ones by activating “survival” genes. Resveratrol has also been shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) production by the endothelium (the thin layer of cells that lines the inside surface of blood vessels). Endothelial nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which means that it dilates the arteries in our body to protect the organs from ischemic damage.

It is interesting to note that resveratrol molecules are manufactured under stress in plants as a means of fighting fungal infections. Additionally, resveratrol is also classified as a phytoalexin (antibiotics produced by plants that are under attack) and therefore resveratrol concentrations are highest in grapes grown in cool, humid climates. This is the basis of the Xenohormesis hypothesis which states that “animals have evolved to detect stress signaling molecules in other species, in order to gain early warning of a deteriorating environment.” This was postulated by Sinclair and his colleague Konrad Howitz and helps explain the French paradox. Maroon also claims that V. rotundifolia Muscadine grapes are uniquely beneficial because they have an extra chromosome (compared to V vinifera cultivars) which produces the phytochemical ellagic acid, and is then transformed into ellagitannins which are believed to provide anticancer and other health benefits.

Flavonoids are a group of compounds found primarily in the skin, stem, and seeds of grapes. Flavanols (also known as flavan-3-oles) such as catechin and epicatechin are flavonoids found abundantly in grape seeds (as well as other “health foods” such as green tea and dark chocolate) and are responsible for imparting that familiar astringent sensation of tannic wines. . There are also anthocyanins such as delphinidin and malvidin, which are responsible for the red color found in the skin of the grape and which is later imparted to the red wine during maceration and fermentation. And there are flavonols like quercetin, which have been found to be strong biological antioxidants that provide a number of health benefits that are maximized in the presence of resveratrol, which is more easily absorbed by quercetin.

Recent research, particularly that of Roger Corder, Professor of Experimental Therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute in London, England and author of The red wine dietnow shows that procyanidins are the active components.

Procyanidins, a subclass of flavanols, are also known as proanthocyanidins or as Procyanidin Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) or as condensed tannins because they are formed from the condensation of flavanols. They are found in high concentrations in grapeseeds (which explains the recent grapeseed oil hype) and consist of long chains of repeating units of other flavanols such as catechin and epicatechin. Young red wines are richer in procyanidins, and as wine ages, the procyanidin molecules polymerize into longer, heavier, and less soluble chains that then precipitate to the bottom of barrels, tanks, or bottles. It logically follows then, as Corder asserts, that the health benefits of red wine are maximized when drunk young. Additionally, different grapes contain different amounts of procyanidins, and Corder’s research highlights Tannat as the richest red variety in procyanidins. vinifera variety.

Tannat grapes are used to make the wonderful wines of Madiran, a major appellation in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in south-western France and Uruguay in south-eastern South America. Tannat-based wines are remarkably deep in color, concentrated, and highly tannic, as the name suggests, when vinified using traditional winemaking techniques that emphasize phenolic extraction and little to no fining and filtration. Red wines made with carbonic maceration or vinified as rosé or with a short maceration period will only contain low levels of procyanidins. As we have seen above, polyphenols are not as soluble in grape juice and become more soluble in wine as the alcohol content increases during fermentation.

The concentration of procyanidin in grapes also depends on the age of the vines and viticultural practices. Stressing the vines, for example, by limiting water intake and harvesting with low yields can be beneficial in this regard and the older the vines the better because of the additional age stress that tends to favor phenolic concentration. A long and slow growing season is always preferred, however we cannot control Mother Nature.

So how do procyanidins work in our bodies to reduce the risks of atherosclerosis, cancer, dementia, diabetes, and other ailments and diseases? There are several biological mechanisms, two of which we examine here: antioxidant by reducing oxidative stress, and hypolipemic (as the name suggests, hypolipemic refers to a substance or compound that lowers the concentration of fats in the blood).

Procyanidins are powerful biological antioxidants (just like resveratrol) just like vitamins C and E. They are capable of fighting free radicals responsible for aging and disease. Free radicals are atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons which makes them highly reactive and which can attack and damage key components in living cells, proteins within cells, as well as DNA and can disrupt their proper functioning to initiate a disease such as CHD or cancer. cancer. in your brochure resveratrolMatilde Parente, MD aptly compared the oxidative damage caused by free radicals to rust.

Procyanidins also inhibit LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, better known as bad cholesteroland raise the level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol or good cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is responsible for coronary thrombosis, that is, the formation of platelets in the blood coagulation that leads to the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and then to atherosclerosis, the most common form of arteriosclerosis in which deposits of fat on the arterial walls, which restricts blood flow and increases the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack). Saturated fats from red or processed meats and trans fats are the main culprits for LDL cholesterol. Triglycerides, the main component of vegetable oil and animal fats, are also implicated in atherosclerosis. HDL cholesterol contains more protein and less fat, and actually removes LDL cholesterol from the blood and the lining of the arteries and transports it to the liver for breakdown and excretion.

On the lighter side of things, reports that women who drink two glasses of wine a day experience greater sexual satisfaction than those who don’t drink or those who drink one glass a day, according to researchers at the University of Florence. , Italy. We can safely extrapolate these results to men, without the need for any scientific study. But gentlemen (and postmenopausal women), be warned: alcohol exacerbates snoring, which your partner may find unromantic and less inclined to invite you back for another sexual adventure. So, be careful with wine (and other alcohols, particularly distilled spirits) and stay moderate in consumption.

Do you need more good news so that wine is part of your daily diet?

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