Link found between red wine and old age

Scientists have found a link between the consumption of red wine and increased longevity.

A number of population studies have revealed that moderate drinkers of red wine have less heart disease than non-drinkers. As a result it has become widely accepted that a glass or two of red wine per day is good for your heart.

Analysis of red wines from areas where the local population live longer ヨ southwest France and Sardinia ヨ showed they contain higher levels of oligomeric procyanidins, which have potent protective effects on blood vessels.

Alan Crozier Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow said: "This study is important as it has, for the first time identified oligomeric procyanidins as the compounds in red wine which are associated with improved vascular health."

The findings have been published in this week's edition of Nature.

The latest results from collaborative studies between the research groups of Professor Crozier and Roger Corder, Professor of Experimental Therapeutics, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary, University of London, reveal the importance of traditional style red wines for conferring these protective effects.

Over the past few years a number of studies have shown that endothelial cells lining the arteries are an important site of action for the vascular protective effects of polyphenols.

The researchers purified the most biologically active polyphenols, and identified them as oligomeric procyanidins. These are the most abundant flavonoid polyphenols in red wine with typical levels of up to 1 g per litre in some traditional style red wines.

To investigate the importance of these findings, red wines were obtained from across the world including from wine drinking regions in southwest France and Sardinia with higher than average longevity to see whether these wines were different from the average red wines from other areas.

This revealed surprisingly high levels of oligomeric procyanidins in the red wines from southwest France and Sardinia, often 5 ヨ 10 times more than some new world wines. This shows a strong association between consumption of traditional tannic wines with overall well being reflected in greater longevity.

A key conclusion from this research is that not all red wines provide the same amount of heart protecting polyphenols.

Ray McHugh (r.mchugh@admin.gla.ac.uk)


This story is emargoed until 18.00 on November 29.

Resveratrol is often put forward as a key component of red wine both in terms of reducing heart disease and increasing longevity, but the levels of this polyphenol are so low, typically 1 ? 2 mg/litre, that to consume sufficient daily amounts of resveratrol it would be necessary to drink around 1000 litres of wine per day.

For further information, or to speak to Professor Crozier, please contact the University of Glasgow Media Relations office on 0141 330 3535, or email r.mchugh@admin.gla.ac.uk

First published: 29 November 2006