It’s well known that French men and women are less likely to suffer heart disease compared with Americans and some researchers speculated drinking red wine helps French people. How extactly red wine could help reduce the heart risk remains unknown though.
A study in the May 27, 2011 issue of European Journal of Pharmacology suggests resveratrol found in red wine and red grapes may be responsible for this reduced risk.
The study showed resveratrol helped prevent endothelial dysfunction in rats. Endothelial dysfunction is associated with hypertension and vascular oxidative stress or eventually cardiovascular disease.
In the study, Siddhartha R. Bhatt of the University fo Houston in Texas and colleagues treated some spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) aged 3 to 4 weeks with resveratrol in drinking water for 10 weeks. Some rats remained untreated as controls.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that compared to rats treated with resveratrol-added drinking water, rats untreated with resveratrol were more likely to have higher blood pressure, oxidative stress and reduced endothelium dependent relaxation.
On the other hand, rats treated with resveratrol lowered blood pressure; reduced hydrogen peroxide and increased superoxide dismutase activity, meaning that the oxidative stress was reduced; and normalized endothelium dependent vasorelaxation, nitrite/nitrate levels and nitrotyrosine content.
More importantly, according to the study, resveratrol treatment prevented the uncoupling of endothelial nitric oxide synthetase (eNOS) and scavenging of nitric oxide (NO), both of which would be otherwise observed in vascular diseases.
The study suggests that resveratrol can help prevent cardiovascular diseases including hypertension.
Food consumers do not have to drink red wine to prevent cardiovascular disease; resveratrol is now available as a dietary supplement.