Scientists prove that wine IS good for you

Wine IS good for you

The saying "a little wine is good for the soul" is an old and popular one. It's even in the Bible. But despite the popularity and the biblical stamp of approval, the saying is often dismissed as nothing more than an urban myth. However, if the findings of a new study funded by the British Heart Foundation is anything to go by, you might be hearing the saying a lot more.

A new BHF-funded study has revealed that there is a molecule found in red wine that causes blood pressure to drop, leading some to suggest that a new treatment for high blood pressure could be on the horizon. The study also sheds light on how the compound could help scientists combat heart and circulatory diseases.

The compound, resveratrol, which can be found in grapes, is produced by the skins of certain fruits as a defence against insects, bacteria and fungi. resveratol has been touted as an elixir capable of combating cancer, dementia and heart and circulatory diseases, among other diseases. But despite various findings in cell and animal studies, scientists have mostly been unable to translate that to treatments for human diseases.

Researchers from King’s College London gave mice with induced high blood pressure 320mg/kg of resveratrol in their diet for 15 days. The blood pressure of mice fed resveratrol in their diet dropped by around 20mmHg compared to mice fed a normal diet. Their findings showed that resveratrol causes blood vessels in mice to relax, and blood pressure to drop. They then showed that resveratrol works in the same way in smooth muscle cells from human blood vessels.

None of the current blood pressure lowering medication target this pathway but the researchers have said that this does not mean the public should start drinking more red wine. For a human to consume the same doses of resveratrol used in the study, they would need to drink around 1,000 bottles of red wine a day.

According to Dr Joseph Burgoyne, Senior Lecturer in Cardiovascular Sciences at King’s College London who led the study, “we’re slowly realising that oxidants aren’t always the villain. Our research shows that a molecule once deemed an antioxidant exerts its beneficial effects through oxidation. We think that many other so-called ‘antioxidants’ might also work in this way.

“Our work could lay the foundations for chemically altering resveratrol to improve its delivery to the body, or designing new, more potent drugs which use the same pathway. In the future, we could have a whole new class of blood pressure drugs.”

Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation added that “unfortunately, this isn’t the all clear to open a bottle of merlot. To get the human equivalent dose of resveratrol used here, you’d need to drink an impossible amount of red wine every day. This study reveals the surprising way in which resveratrol works and opens up the possibility of new blood pressure drugs which work in a similar way. The findings bring us a step closer to tackling this ‘silent killer’ which puts people at risk of having a devastating stroke or heart attack.

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