baudrunner's space: An apple a day..
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An apple a day..

The compounds in grape seeds known for making red wine good for the heart are called procyanadins. Procyanadin is a tannin, a class of compound found in plants and especially in tea. The seeds of Tannat grapes contain the highest concentrations of procyanadins.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and in laboratory experiments with high concentrations of this compound it is found to extend the life of yeast, flies, worms, and fish. This substance was previously touted as the longevity promoter but Roger Corder at Queen Mary's School of Medicine in London has discovered that it occurs in such low concentrations in red wine that it would be necessary to drink about 1,000 litres to derive any benefit, whereas drinking only one glass of wine per day made from seeds high in procyanadins would have a positive effect on longevity.

It was found after comparisons of regional wines that the best way to determine Just which grape seeds and therefore which wines derived therefrom have the highest procyanadin content was to research how the wine was produced. Areas where traditional wine making techniques were in use are preferred. Wines from Southwest France and from Sardinia averaged the highest concentrations of procyanadins.

Should we run to the wine store and start buying up wines high in procyanadins? Why not the local confectioner or produce grocer for that matter? In fact procyanadins are found in much higher concentrations in chocolate and apples, as illustrated by the chart below.

procyanadin concentrations in common foods

Don't dismiss wine altogether just yet. As to whether we should take all this information seriously can be decided for us by statistics. The French are noted for their regular wine consumption. The Gers region in Southwest France on the border with Spain has twice the French national average of men aged 90 or more. The French eat as much fat as the British and have similar blood cholesterol levels but four times as many Britons die of heart disease as do Frenchmen. Research shows that procyanadins improve the elasticity of blood vessels, making them less likely to retain the plaque that cannot be so easily sloughed off in hardened arteries. Modern wine production removes large amounts of procyanadins from the finished product. The traditional wine production method, known as vinifié à l'ancienne, preserves them. This technique allows the wine to maintain contact with the seeds and skins during the slow fermentation process.

Not only does it matter that one drinks wine at all, apparently it matters also what wine it is that one drinks.

addendum: Roger Corder posted an interesting comment a few weeks before my site required a total rebuild from cached copies of my posts after accidental deletion of my entire blog. The comments cannot be recovered. In it he stated that two glasses a day of certain wines from the Gers region of southwest France have two to three times the concentration of procyanadins than do 100 grams of dark chocolate. He noted that it is probably much easier for the average consumer to drink two glasses of wine every day than it is to eat that much chocolate. I have no inclination to contest that.

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