If you're an oenophile -- especially one who prefers a cabernet or merlot over a chardonnay or riesling -- you've got an increasing number of scientists in your corner. Turns out, according to extensive recent research, that red wine appears to deliver some serious health benefits along with the pleasure of its taste. It also could help any would-be mineral prospectors among you (more on that at the end).
So what new scientific findings back regular, moderate consumption of red wine? Consider these:
It might help fight cancer. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center this month published a study that found that resveratrol, a natural antioxidant in grape skins and red wine, can help kill cancer cells in the pancreas. The antioxidant apparently works by crippling the workings of the mitochondria that provide cancer cells with energy.
It could reduce complications from diabetes. Red wine's resveratrol appears to help fight such diabetes-related complications as heart disease and certain kidney and eye problems, according to a study from the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England. The antioxidant seems to protect against blood vessel cell damage caused by a diabetic's high levels of blood glucose. "Resveratrol's antioxidant effects in the test tube are well documented but our research shows the link between high levels of glucose, its damaging effect on cell structure, and the ability of resveratrol of protect against and mend that damage," said principal researcher Matt Whiteman.
It might delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The polyphenols in grape juice and red wine show some ability to fight the accumulation of the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's, according to research from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The polyphenols appear to work by reducing the accumulation of the beta-amyloid peptides that form the plaques.
It could help prevent heart disease. The polyphenols found in grapes, red wine and green tea seem to encourage blood vessel growth that can benefit the circulatory system and heart, a team of French researchers reported in a recent issue of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Even low doses equivalent to one glass of red wine per day appeared to provide health benefits, the team found.
It might fight food poisoning. Red wines -- especially cabernets, merlots and zinfandels -- appear to have anti-microbial powers that kill the bugs that cause food-borne illnesses, according to research from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Red wine showed the ability to fight pathogens that included E. coli, salmonella, listeria and Helicobacter pylori, the study found.
It could also increase Libido and put everybody in the mood. Enough said here.
Finally, if you're hunting for metals and have any wine to spare, you could have a leg up on finding natural mineral deposits. An exploration and mining scientist at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation recently found that wine or soft drinks, when mixed with soil, can dissolve
natural metals into solution, making it easy to test for local mineral deposits. The beverages seem to work best at hunting down minerals like silver, zinc, copper and nickel. "In many cases, the comparison of metals extracted using wine and soft drink were superior than those extracted using conventional, and much more expensive, commercial solvents," said one researcher.
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