White Wine as Good for Heart as Red?
Lighter Wines Contain Heart-Helping Antioxidants Too, New Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 11, 2006 -- White wine fans, raise your glasses! A new study suggests
the lighter wines may be just as good for the heart as red.
Until now, research has suggested the bulk of grapes' heart-healthy benefits
come from antioxidant compounds primarily found in their skins. These compounds
are called anthocyanins and contribute to the red color of the fruit.
In the making of red wines, the grape skins are crushed along with the pulp.
But the skins are quickly separated out during the making of most white
That led to the conventional belief that red wines, which contain more of
these compounds, are responsible for the drink's beneficial effects in fighting
But researchers say new evidence suggests the pulp of grapes appears to be
just as heart-healthy as the skin, thanks to other types of antioxidants
present in the flesh.
This challenges the notion that red wines, like cabernet sauvignon, merlot,
and pinot noir, are better for the heart than white wines, such as chardonnay,
sauvignon blanc, and Riesling.
Red or White? Let Your Heart Decide
In the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry, a group of American and Italian researchers compared the effect
of feeding laboratory rats water or equal amounts of grape pulp extract, or
grape skin extract for 30 days.
The results showed both extracts were equally effective in protecting the
rats from induced heart attacks. Rats fed either grape skin or grape pulp
extract had significantly smaller heart attacks compared with those fed
In addition, tests showed both extracts appeared to have the same level of
Researchers say the grape skin extract did contain high levels of
anthocyanins -- part of a class of antioxidants known as polyphenols.
The pulp extract did not contain anthocyanins; but it was rich in other
types of polyphenols.
"Although further study is needed to identify the principal ingredients
responsible for the cardioprotective abilities of the grape flesh, to the best
of our knowledge, our study provides evidence for the first time that the flesh
of grapes is equally cardioprotective with respect to the skins," writes
researcher M. Falchi, of the University of Milan, and colleagues.