A popular supplement that claims to give the health benefits of red wine may not protect middle-aged women against a range of life threatening conditions, scientists have warned.
Red wine contains an ingredient called resveratrol which has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and increase life expectancy.
Sales of purified resveratrol have soared dramatically in the belief they can lower sugar and fat levels in the blood and reduce blood pressure without the downsides of alcohol.
Is red wine really the toast of the town when it comes to health paybacks? The answer is yes and no. While properties in red wine do help prevent heart disease and some cancers, and reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, these benefits aren't unique to red wine.
"Red wine in small amounts has been shown to have beneficial effects," says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "However, there's nothing special in red wine that you couldn't obtain in other foods that are antioxidant rich." For example, red grapes, grape juice, grape seed oil, deep green vegetables, melon, pumpkin, squash, blueberries, and peppers are just some of the other sources of antioxidants similar to the ones found in red wine.
"The antioxidants in red wine may be more concentrated than in other foods because of the fermentation process they go through," says Gerbstadt. But the concentrated levels aren't significant enough to recommend the consumption of red wine for health benefits
Moderate consumption of red wine has been widely reported to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. Some researchers have attributed this cardioprotective quality to the significant amounts of resveratrol naturally present in grape skin.
Resveratrol protects grapes and some other plants against fungal infections. It has been shown previously to have a number of potentially beneficial properties, including antioxidant, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.