Monday, May 17, 2010

Wine and Health: Red Wine, Resveratrol, and a Long, Contented Life

Some of the most exciting medical research in recent years has had to do with the potentially life-altering and life-extending compound resveratrol, which is found, famously, in red wine, and which has been the subject of countless reports in the popular wine press, national news outlets, and right here.

But, as with all such research, progress is marked by an uneven trajectory, and the fits and starts that it experiences along the way are quite typical.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a story in the Boston Globe today notes that, “even as [a number of pharmaceutical companies] have published results showing the promise of the ingredient, resveratrol, against diseases of aging, several groups of researchers have questioned whether the original findings that led the company to create a new class of pharmaceuticals really explain why the drugs work.”

Several times a month I’m asked about the health benefits of wine, and, inevitably, the question of which red wine is healthiest is posed. My answer is always the same: What’s most important right now is that people consume a moderate amount of wine, preferably at mealtime, as part of an overall healthy diet.

That having been said, and this being America in the 21st century, the quest is on to maximize the benefits of this so-called miracle compound. To that end, resveratrol pills are being developed, resveratrol-enhanced wines are being considered, and more and more people than I ever thought possible are bragging about the fact that they’re drinking a glass of red wine a day “for the health benefits.”

What matters most, though, is that wine--good, old-fashioned red wine, without any added resveratrol, when it inevitably comes along--is a part of your life. The benefits of enjoying it with friends and family, alongside a well-considered meal, will certainly make life more pleasant. And that, it seems to me, has to lead to a longer, healthier, more contented life.


jim on May 28, 2010 at 1:27 AM said...

It's vital to understand that, to date, there has been no landmark study in humans that indisputably concludes that resveratrol offers the benefits often witnessed at the cellular level.

While studies in humans appear to be encouraging, conclusions are usually couched with words such as "association with...," "may," "could," or "possible." With so many intertwined physical and social variables, it is still nearly impossible to tease the affects of resveratrol from lifestyle behaviors.....perhaps one day.....

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