Friday, May 15, 2009

Health Benefits of Red Wine

The publication of medical studies that suggest drinking red wine has health benefits caused an increase in the demand for red wine.  The quantity of red wine demanded increased at almost every possible price.  Graphically, this is illustrated by a shift of the demand curve for red wine to the right.  The effect of increased demand in the market for red wine was an increase in both the price of red wine and the quantity of red wine purchased and consumed.

Here is an overview of the medical studies that suggest there are health benefits to drinking red wine:

"It's thought that red wine, despite the alcohol content, also has helpful properties, like resveratrol and other polyphenols," says Barbara Shukitt-Hale, a research psychologist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

Polyphenols are chemical compounds found in the skin of grapes and other plants. These compounds act as "antioxidants" -- the vitamins, minerals and enzymes in foods that protect the cells in your body from damage caused by the normal process of metabolism and ward off chronic disease. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol found in red wine.

You could say that each serving that you have of a fruit or a vegetable — or perhaps a glass of wine — is beneficial, Shukitt-Hale reasons, as long as you don't forget that wine is alcohol, and you need to drink responsibly.

"You don't want to have seven glasses of red wine a day instead of seven servings of fruits and vegetables," she cautions.

One of most widely documented benefits of red wine is heart health. A pivotal study published several years ago in journal Nature found that red wine inhibited the synthesis of a protein called endothelin-1 that can lead to the development of atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty material along the artery walls.

A November 2006 article in the academic journal Nature claims: 

Regular, moderate consumption of red wine is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality1, but the relative contribution of wine's alcohol and polyphenol components to these effects is unclear2. Here we identify procyanidins as the principal vasoactive polyphenols in red wine and show that they are present at higher concentrations in wines from areas of southwestern France and Sardinia, where traditional production methods ensure that these compounds are efficiently extracted during vinification. These regions also happen to be associated with increased longevity in the population.


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