Research from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz published
in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, has demonstrated
that some wines are better than others at protecting you from
heart disease. French wines were found to be richer in flavonoids,
polyphenols and phytoalexins than the German wines tested in this
Professor Forstermann analysed if alcohol couldincrease the amount
of endothelial nitricoxide synthase (eNOS) available in the body.
The enzyme eNOS protects blood vessels from clotting and from
plaque build up. This enzyme is dysfunctional in many disorders,
such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and
also with cigarette smoking. Forstermann and his team cultured
cells from human umbilical cords and then exposed them to six
French red wines, three German red wines and pure alcohol or nothing
as controls.The researchers found that some of the French wines
caused eNOS expression to quadruple, while the German wines showed
little change when compared to the controls. Pure alcohol had
no effect on the eNOS present in the cells.
"Good red wines contain ingredients that are able to stimulate
eNOS gene expression and eNOS activity. Therefore, they have the
potential to protect against atherosclerosis (hardening of the
arteries)," commented Forstermann. "Any wine rich in flavonoids
and other heart-healthy compounds, such as those found in Italy,
California and South Africa, would probably produce similar findings".The
way grapes are grown, especially the soil results in their richness
in antioxidants. The researchers also tested to see if the way
the wine is fermented had any effect-it didnt. Wine matured in
oak barrels or steel tanks showed the same beneficial effects.
Dr. Robert Vogel, a professor of medicine at the University of
Maryland Hospital comments"Its an interesting study, but its
not clinically relevant. They incubated human cells in wine concentrations.
What that means to human beings is still unknown."However, Vogel
adds, the study may point to a reason why there have been so many
conflicting studies on the benefits of red wine. SOURCE: Wallerath T et al. Red wine increases the expression of
human endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Journal of the American
College of Cardiology 2003;41:471-8.