Polyphenols

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Polyphenols

Wine contains phenolic compounds (polyphenols) which give wine its characteristic colour and flavour and are produced by plants in response to fungal infection, and various chemical and physical stressors, especially during ripening. They are extracted from the seeds and skins of grapes during fermentation of winemaking, when the juice is in contact with the grape skins and seeds. The amount of polyphenols in red wine is generally greater than in white wine because the red juice has longer contact with the grape skins during fermentation enabling more phenolic substances to be extracted into the red juice.

There is evidence that certain wine-derived phenolic compounds, such as resveratrol, and flavonoids such as anthocyanins, catechins and flavanols can provide health benefits. Researchers have shown that wine-derived phenolic compounds act as antioxidants and stimulate antioxidant defense systems (Forman et al 2014).  Thereby, these antioxidants are believed to reduce the damage caused by the body's free radicals (toxic waste products) which contribute to causing degenerative diseases in the body such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and general ageing.

Many polyphenols are metabolised by gut bacteria. Recently, it has been shown that rather than the polyphenols themselves, their metabolites might be the key compounds in cardiovascular and cancer protection (Yang et al 2020).

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring phenolic compound in red wine that provides a number of anti-aging health benefits. As a natural food ingredient, numerous animal and laboratory studies have demonstrated that resveratrol shows a high antioxidant activity. Resveratrol also exhibits antitumor activity and is considered a potential candidate for prevention and treatment of several types of cancer. Other observed bioactivity includes anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, cardio-protective, vasorelaxant and neuroprotective effects. Although resveratrol can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in experimental and animal models, it is not known whether resveratrol can prevent and/or help treat cancer in humans (Carter et al 2014, Ramirez-Garza et al 2018, Salehi et al 2018).

 

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