For Best Results, Drink Like a Sardinian

There’s more scientific evidence that moderate consumption of red wine is good for you:

New research from the William Harvey Research Institute and the University of Glasgow shows that red wines from areas of greater longevity in southwest France and Sardinia have higher levels of procyanidins – a type of flavonoid polyphenol with potent protective effects on blood vessels.

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.

The Q & A with one of the researchers also updates our understanding of a previous development in the wine-is-good-for-you literature:

Q: How much procyanidins would you have to consume to feel the benefits?

A: It is difficult to say as further work is required in clinical trials but the best evidence comes from clinical trials of grape seed extract, which have shown that 200 – 300 mg per day will lower blood pressure. Two small glasses (125 ml glass) of a procyanidin-rich red wine, such as a Madiran wine from southwest France, would provide this amount.

Note on Resveratrol
Resveratrol is often put forward as a key component of red wine, both in terms of reducing heart disease and increasing longevity (see: Kaeberlein & Rabinovitch Medicine: grapes versus gluttony. Nature 2006 Nov 16; 444: 280-1). 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.

And while perhaps entertaining at first, attempting to consume that much wine would assumably have other negative health effects. One man seems to have tried long ago, actually, and look what happened to him. Background on our booze-related policy work (health, labeling, marketing) can be found here.