To your health

To your health

Savor the bouquet — notes of clove, stone fruit, leather, earth, smoke. Ahh, the language of wine, a world of voluptuous adjectives.

Even though many wines are described as "full-bodied," wine consumption may aid metabolism and promote a slimmer you. Ever more research on the plant nutrients in grapes is confirming that wine-drinking and grape-eating can hasten weight loss.

And that's just the tip of the tongue.

Resveratrol, a compound in grape wine, may slow aging and the harm caused by overeating, protecting the heart, arteries and liver. Resveratrol appears to modulate the body's use of sugar, possibly enhancing muscle glucose uptake, which may aid endurance and muscle strength. Moreover, resveratrol may reduce the conversion of sugar into fat in adipose (fat) cells, helping to prevent them from getting bigger.

Animal research shows that resveratrol intake can improve the health of the intervertebral discs, the cartilage in the spinal column. Studies also demonstrate that wine consumption enhances osteoblast activity, enabling bone formation and possibly slowing osteoporosis.

Other compounds found in grape seeds and skins collaborate with resveratrol in a sort of plant chemical tag-team — a dance of the phytochemicals.

The deeply hued, almost purple-black color typical of highly pigmented or well-extracted red wines is reflective of anthocyanins, phytochemicals that increase artery strength and elasticity while reducing inflammation.

Grape seeds mildly discourage blood clotting, lowering risks of heart attack and stroke. Consumed together, as table grapes or wine, grape compounds slow atherosclerosis progression, quelling various disease processes, possibly by affecting the way our cells, tissues and genes act and communicate.

Though resveratrol consumption is not a license to overeat, and wine is surely something we can live without, the question of wine drinking is no longer whether consuming moderately is OK, but exactly why it works.

You can bet that more answers are on the way.

Michael Altman is a nutritionist at Ventana Wellness and the Centre for Natural Healing. He teaches at Southern Oregon University and College of the Siskiyous. E-mail him at michael@ventanawellness.com.

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