Writing assistance by Elise Lindstrom, R.D.
Enjoying a glass or two of red wine each day is widely believed to lessen one’s risk for cardiovascular problems and other chronic diseases—although no one has really understood why. Until now.
A new study led by Roberta Cazzola from the University of Milan, Italy, and published in Food Research International says that the benefits stem from red wine polyphenols that protect omega-3s in the bloodstream from breaking down, reducing inflammation in the body and leading to a healthier heart.
The potent tag team is also attracting attention at Federico II University in Naples, Italy, where a study on the effects of dietary omega-3s and polyphenols on cardiovascular risk factors is expected to finish up in June 2012.
Polyphenols are plant chemicals with antioxidant properties that may exceed those of vitamins A, C, and E. Flavonoids, resveratrol, lignans, and quercetin are among the many polyphenols.
Moderate wine consumption means one five-ounce glass a day for women and two for men. In general, a serving of red wine adds about 0.5 grams of polyphenols to the diet; white varieties contain less. Looking specifically for flavonoids? Research at the University of California says the flavonoid favorite is Cabernet Sauvignon followed closely by Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir. Spanish reds may offer the most resveratrol, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Don’t drink alcohol? Don’t start! Get your polyphenols from red grapes, strawberries, boiled peanuts, and dark chocolate. In addition, green tea and coffee contain lesser yet significant amounts of the antioxidants.