Red Wine Antioxidants

One of the most studied antioxidants in red wines is resveratrol, a compound found in the seeds and skins of grapes. Red wine has a high concentration of resveratrol because the skins and seeds ferment in the grapes’ juices during the red wine-making process. This prolonged contact during fermentation produces significant levels of resveratrol in the finished red wine. White wine also contains resveratrol, but the seeds and skins are removed early in the white wine-making process, reducing the concentration of the compound in the finished white wine.

Antioxidants are beneficial in preventing harmful elements in the body from attacking healthy cells. Found in red wine, peanuts, blueberries and cranberries, resveratrol is easily absorbed by the human body. The antioxidant properties of resveratrol also offer certain health benefits in the prevention of heart disease and the reduction of lung tissue inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Phytoestrogen Effect

Resveratrol is also known as a phytoestrogen. In the 1940s, scientists found that phytoestrogens in clover were responsible for certain infertility conditions in sheep that ate a diet exclusively of clover. They discovered that phytoestrogens have similar properties to estrogen, the female sex hormone. Due to this similarity, phytoestrogens are able to bind to estrogen receptors acting like the estrogen that is naturally produced in the body.

Therefore, diets that include red wine may benefit certain conditions affected by a decrease in natural estrogen including menopause, breast cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Moderate amounts of red wine, such as a glass per day, may provide enough resveratrol to protect against estrogen depletion in the body.

Other Antioxidants

Red wine also contains other antioxidants. Researchers are finding new ways to isolate these antioxidants and study their health benefits.

One of these antioxidants, a flavanoid known as catechin, is abundant in red wine and green tea. Research indicates that, along with resveratrol, catechin plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Saponins, found in red wine, olive oil and soybeans, offer protective benefits for the heart and are easily absorbed by the body. Yet another antioxidant present in red wine, called guercetin, is being studied for its value in the prevention of lung cancer.


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Cos, P., De Bruyne, T., Apers, S., Vanden Berghe, D., Pieters, L., Vlietinck, A. J. (2003) Phytoestrogens: Recent developments. Planta Medica, 69, 589-599.

Wu, J. M.