The French Paradox, i.e. the drinking of red wine has
been attributed with the low incidence of CHD in France. The
benefit comes from both the alcohol content and the
polyphenols found predominately in red wine.
The "French Paradox" and the benefits of red wine have
been thoroughly studied. Two 8 oz glasses of red wine a day
result in the following metabolic effects:
- A 6 to 11% alcohol content is responsible for the
absorption of procyanidins (tannins) and the most
important flavinoid from the grape skin.
- Increase in HDL-2 & HDL-3 by 10 to 30%
- Decrease in platelet aggregation
- Decrease in fibrinogen (increase in
- Increases tissue-type plasminogen activator antigen
for 12-14 hours
- Increase in Apo A-1 & Apo A-2 (increase Apo A-1
to Apo B ratio)
- Decrease effect of thrombin
- Decrease serum thromboxane B2
Polyphenolic Flavonoids: concentration
Red wine =
1,800 - 3,000 mg/L
White wine =
90 - 150 mg/L
- There are numbers flavonoids that have been
identified in wine from the grape - found in grape juice,
white and red wine - most of which are "antioxidants".
The flavonoid in the greatest amount is quercetin, which
composes 60% of all the flavonoids in wine. Other
flavonoids in red wine e.g. caffeic acid have greater
antioxidant effect but are in small amounts. Other
flavanoids, particularly resveritrol and ipicatechin are
also found in red wines and not in white wines.
- As red wine is fermented with the grape skin, red
wine contains additional flavonoids called procyanidins
(tannins) whose absorption is facilitated by the 5-11%
- Categorically the flavonoids decrease the oxidation
potential of LDL and its uptake by macrophages.
- Most flavonoids decrease eicosanoid synthesis.
Specifically red wine has been shown to decrease
concentration (inhibits synthesis) of thromboxane B2.
Overall the decrease in eicosanoid metabolism decreases
thrombaxane and increases prostacyclin.
- Most flavonoids increase the formation of EDRF
(endothelium-dependent relaxation factor) or NO. The
vasorelaxation effect of red wine seems to be mediated by
an increase in cyclic GMP resulting in vascular smooth
- Polyphenols from red wine induced cytochrome P450
concentration in the liver.
Non-Flavonoids in Red Wine:
- Vitamins - Red Wine is a fairly good dietary source
of folic acid, biotin, pyridoxine and niacin.
- Minerals - Red Wine is an excellent dietary source
for potassium 528 mg/16oz.; magnesium, phosphorus,
calcium and iron.
- Stibenes - one study demonstrated a decrease in
apolipoprotein B from trans-resveratrol
(tri-hydroxystilbene) from the skin in red wines.
- Serotonin (5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine) is released
from platelets by most red wines. Amount released may be
related to the polyphenol content.
Summary: The cardiovascular benefits of red wine
are a result of its alcohol and flavonoid content. Alcohol
alone in doses of 20 to 30 gm/day can decrease CHD by 40%.
The alcohol content of red wine is responsible for the
effective absorption of flavonoids and tannins. Red wine
also contains a large amount of folic acid, other vitamins
and potassium and magnesium, which have beneficial