Sipping v Quaffing: how to reap the health benefits of red wine

April 11, 2012

For the last few decades the mainstream press have extolled the virtues of moderate red wine consumption, particularly the possible cardioprotective benefits of resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes. Sales of red wine have increased dramatically as the masses have embraced the notion of ‘healthy’ drinking but it seems only those truly appreciating the wine reap the cardioprotective benefits.

Once resveratrol reaches the gut it is rapidly converted into another compound called piceatannol and so does not enter the bloodstream. Sipping wine slowly, however, allows the resveratrol to be absorbed intact via the mucous membranes in the mouth, which greatly increases resveratrol blood levels. So perhaps the quaffers should pay heed to the wine connoisseur and pause to appreciate the taste and mouth-feel attributes of the wine, improving their health all the while.

Although many wine drinkers already delight in savouring a good red on the palate, it’s not all bad news for the quaffers. New research by scientists at Purdue University, Indiana, indicates that piceatannol, the breakdown product of resveratrol, might have its own health benefits. The study, published in this week’s issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, reports that piceatannol prevents fat cells from maturing, thereby arresting fat cell formation. Although still in its preliminary stages it has potential implications for combating rising obesity levels and preventing weight gain.

As noteworthy as the research is, it presents a serious dilemma to the red wine drinker: sip to save your heart or quaff to quell the weight? Sciencegirl thinks it’s probably wise to have two glasses on the go, one for sipping and one for quaffing. Just to be sure, of course.


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