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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, September 13, 2013
In recent years, red wine has
received some pretty good press.
When we think of a healthy form of
alcohol, red wine tends to be the top
But why---and does it deserve all
Scientists agree that there is some-
thing in red wine that, when drunk in
moderation, can help to protect the
heart, reduce bad cholesterol and
prevent blood clots.
But there is little agreement of what
is causing those beneficial effects.
Recently, Uruguayan chemists went
to such great lengths to discover the
secret of their healthy home-grown
red wine that they sequenced the
genome of the Tannat grape from
which it is made.
That was prompted by the discovery
that those wines contained high levels
of procyanidins---a class of flavanols
found in plants, fruit and cocoa beans.
Roger Corder, professor of experi-
mental therapeutics at Queen Mary
University of London and author of
The Red Wine Diet, made the discov-
ery and confirms that the Tannat wines
contain three to four times more pro-
cyanidins than Cabernet Sauvignon.
He says they---alongside the high
concentration of tannins, which com-
bat the ageing of cells---are likely to
be behind its health-giving proper-
Other scientists are excited about a
compound found in the skin of red
grapes called resveratrol.
For many years, it has been hailed
as a kind of wonder drug---an anti-
ageing compound, which could extend
life, combat obesity and cure cancer.
But, so far, studies on resveratrol
have taken place in the lab---as yet
there is no evidence that it can be
effective in humans.
Dr Emma Smith, science commu-
nications officer at Cancer Research
UK, says it is a mistake to drink red
wine and believe it is doing good.
"Red wine only contains very small
amounts of resveratrol and people
shouldn t drink wine in an attempt to
get any health benefits.
"It s important to remember that,
even in moderate amounts, alcohol
increases the risk of several cancers
and has been estimated to cause
around 12,500 cases of cancer a year
in the UK."
Researchers at the University of
Leicester are, however, looking at
whether resveratrol, on its own and
not in red wine, could one day be
developed into a cancer-preventing
Experimenting on mice in the lab,
they have found that a daily amount
of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses
of wine can halve the rate of bowel
They now want to take their find-
ings further and find out how the
compound might work in humans by
carrying out clinical trials.
Prof Karen Brown, from the depart-
ment of cancer studies and molecular
medicine at Leicester, says her research
must not be misconstrued.
"We re not saying red wine can pre-
vent cancer---we are looking at the
"Alcohol is not good for cancer---
but it just so happens that red wine
Even in red wine, Prof Roger Corder
says there is little evidence that resver-
atrol is an important ingredient.
"It s a myth that resveratrol has
anything to do with the health benefits
of red wine.
"Most red wines contain only neg-
ligible amounts of resveratrol and those
that do contain some have too little
to have any effects."
Instead he says it s the pips, and
not the grape skin, which are key.
When the grapes are fermented for
several weeks or more, that is when
flavanols can be released from the pips
and these evolve into more complex
But the bad news is that doesn t
always happen with all wines, he says.
"Most modern style wines don t
take that approach to wine-making."
What people should focus on, he
says, is drinking wine in a healthy
"It s very hard to say wine is a
healthy drink when people consume
too much alcohol, at the wrong time
of day and without food."
The best way to drink wine is in
moderation with food, Prof Corder
Taken in this way, wine is more
likely to have a beneficial effect on
our health---not an adverse one. (BBC)
behind its healthy
reputation?YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
"Red wine only contains
very small amounts of
resveratrol and people
shouldn't drink wine in an
attempt to get any health
"It's important to remember
that, even in moderate
amounts, alcohol increases
the risk of several cancers
and has been estimated to
cause around 12,500 cases
of cancer a year in the UK."
Researchers at the
University of Leicester are,
however, looking at whether
resveratrol, on its own and
not in red wine, could one
day be developed into a
that there is
something in red
wine that, when
help to protect the
heart, reduce 'bad'
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