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Dec 13, 2006 10:18 PM

"French Paradox" update - procyanadin

A study published in last month's Nature found evidence that a polyphenol called procyanadin might be responsible for the apparent health benefits of red wine in the French diet. The study found that wines from southwest France and Sardinia have higher levels of the substance, and the researchers theorize that traditional wine production methods, high-altitude vinyards, and/or the Tannat grape might be behind that.

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  1. That's interesting. But haven't other tests -- that didn't necessarily use French wines -- confirm the positive health benefits?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Mr. Cookie

      Not for procyanadin.

      There was a study of resveratrol that found health benefits in mice, but that didn't explain the "French Paradox," since you'd need to drink around a thousand bottles of wine a day to get a dose comparable to what they gave the mice.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        You've probably heard the one about the guy who, upon being told that tests showed resveratrol in red wine had health benefits for mice, said, "That's good news" -- and upon being told that a human would have to drink a thousand bottles of wine a day to get a comparable dose, said, "The news just keeps on getting better."

        I haven't followed this issue all that closely, but I was under the impression that several studies showed that red wine had health benefits. If some of those studies used non-French wines that are lower in procyanadin, seems like it would be hard to peg the overall benefits to that chemical...unless the latest study showed the health benefits were more pronounced for residients of southwest France and Sardinia...?

        1. re: Mr. Cookie

          As it says in the abstract (second link above), "Regular, moderate consumption of red wine is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality, but the relative contribution of wine's alcohol and polyphenol components to these effects is unclear."

          The researchers who wrote the Nature paper are trying to pin down exactly what it is that causes the health benefits of red wine. Tests with cell cultures suggested procyanadin might be responsible, so they did some tests to see if wines made in areas with higher longevity (such as SW France and Sardinia) contained more of it, and it turns out they do.

    2. Thanks for the post... couple questions:

      1) So it's procyanadin and not resveratrol that the french paradox benefits are now attributed to ??


      2) I read somewhere a few weeks after this report came out that WHITE WINE also has substantial french paradox benefits... is this your understanding also or ??


      3) Which would be the best "everyday" wines based on the territory that they say has the highest concentrations of the phenols ??

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        Resveratrol can't explain the "French Paradox," since there's not a significant amount of it in a bottle of wine.

        As the abstract says, "the relative contribution of wine's alcohol and polyphenol components to these effects is unclear." So white vs. red is an open question. This study may be one step toward an answer.

        Articles discussing some of the tested wines: