There has been some controversy in recent years about the possible beneficial vascular effects of drinking moderate amounts of red wine. Is it in the alcohol or in some other molecules in the complex wine soup? A report in this week’s issue of Nature confirms what we all thought — viz. that the effect can be correlated to a set of molecules called procyanidines which are in higher concentrations in wines from the southwestern area of France than in wines from other regions of the wine world. Here’s the abstract:

Regular, moderate consumption of red wine is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality, but the relative contribution of wine’s alcohol and polyphenol components to these effects is unclear. 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.

(See futher R. Corder et al., “Oenology: Red wine procyanidins and vascular health”, Nature vol. 444, p. 566; 30 November 2006)

And what about beer? Come on, British Medical Journal!

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