French red wines may benefit your blood vessels

February 18, 2003 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

French red wines may benefit your blood vessels

Plenty of research suggests that modest drinking is heart-healthy, but could getting your wine from France make a difference?

Probably not. But German scientists have found that French red wines may have at least one blood-vessel benefit that a handful of German reds lack.

Their experiments with human blood-vessel cells showed that the French wines boosted the cells' production of nitric oxide (NO), a compound that helps dilate blood vessels and prevent blood clotting.

Endothelial cells--which line the insides of blood vessels--produced up to three times more NO when "treated" with French wine than when wine-free, according to new study findings. No such effect was seen in cells doused with German red wine.

According to the study authors, the NO boost brought on by red wines from France "and probably other locations" may be one reason the beverage is tied to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Many studies have suggested that alcohol, in moderation, may help protect against coronary artery disease.

Various mechanisms, including elevations in "good" HDL cholesterol and blood-thinning effects, are thought to be at work.

Some research, particularly in Europe, has pinpointed red wine as being especially heart-healthy.

One theory is that antioxidant compounds derived from the grapes used to make red wine provide additional heart benefits. Antioxidants, found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, neutralize cell-damaging compounds in the body called free radicals. The research team speculates that these grape compounds caused the NO increase they found--and could explain the difference between the French and German wines.

French red wines, they note, have been found to harbor particularly high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols.

US studies have suggested that when it comes to the heart benefits of drinking, all alcohol-be it wine, beer or spirits--is basically created equal.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.