Resveratrol, a molecule found in the skin of red grapes, has been found to have a host of health effects, most recently prolonging the life spans of obese mice.
But the natural wonder drug may not play a big role in the beneficial effects of wine drinking, according to research published in Nature magazine, and reported on by Scientific American.
“There are some fascinating effects of resveratrol in animal systems,” notes plant biochemist Alan Crozier of the University of Glasgow. “To get similar doses into humans through red wine, you would have to consume more than 1,000 liters of red wine a day.”
Because drinking that much wine is beyond even the hardiest oenophile –yes, even those in France — Crozier and his colleague Roger Corder of Queen Maryâ€™s School of Medicine and Dentistry in London set out to identify exactly the compounds in red wine that promote heart health.
Using the endothelial cells that line human artery walls, the researchers tested which compounds in wine had the greatest effect. The tests showed that flavonoids called oligomeric procyanidins — essentially, condensed tannins, the compounds that impart bitterness to young reds — suppressed production of the peptide responsible for hardening arteries.
Such procyanidins can make up as much as 50 percent of the bioactive compounds in a given wine, the researchers observed.