Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Specific benefits linked to origin of wine
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 study.

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 didn’t. 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"It’s an interesting study, but it’s 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.

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