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by: Christopher Green, R.N. B.A.
ood news! A recent study suggested that resveratrol, a red wine compound, may extend our life!
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Resveratrol is a phytoalexin which are antibiotics produced by plants that are under attack. Resveratrol is produced by several plants that are sold as a nutritional supplement. A number of beneficial health effects, such as anti-cancer, antiviral, neuroprotective, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and life-prolonging effects have been reported in non-human species (e.g. rats). Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and as a constituent of red wine but based on extrapolation from animal trials, apparently not in sufficient amounts to explain the “French paradox” that the incidence of coronary heart disease is relatively low in southern France despite high dietary intake of saturated fats.
David Sinclair of the Harvard Medical School bhas found that resveratrol increases the activity of a protein called SIRT1. Resveratrol significantly increases the lifespan of yeast and mice. There is hope that it could do the same for humans.
Resveratrol is produced by several plants, apparently for its antifungal properties. It is found in widely varying amounts in grapes (primarily the skins), raspberries, mulberries, in peanuts, berries of Vaccinium species, including blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries, some pines, such as Scots pine and eastern white pine, and the roots and stalks of giant knotweed and Japanese knotweed, called hu zhang in China. Resveratrol was first isolated from an extract of the Peruvian legume Cassia quinquangulata in 1974.
The amount of resveratrol in food substances varies greatly. Ordinary non-muscadine Red wine contains between 0.2 and 5.8 mg/L , depending on the grape variety, whilst white wine has much less - the reason being that red wine is fermented with the skins, allowing the wine to absorb the resveratrol, whereas
white wine is fermented after the skin has been removed. Wines produced from muscadine grapes, however, both red and white, may contain more than 40 mg/L.
Fresh grape skin contains about 50 to 100 micrograms of resveratrol per gram!
In grapes, resveratrol is found primarily in the skin and seeds. This is particularly true for muscadine grapes, whose skin and seeds have about one hundred times the concentration as the pulp. The amount found in grape skins also varies with the grape cultivar, its geographic origin, and exposure to fungal infection. The amount of fermentation time a wine spends in contact with grape skins is an important determinant of its resveratrol content.
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