Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

And now the bad news: red wine is not great for health after all

By Tim Crowe

A new study discounts the notion that a compound found in red wine has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and potential anticancer effects.

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Nutrition research often loses sight of the wood for the trees by focusing on a single component of food. The latest example of this comes from a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine today that shows the much-hyped resveratrol may not be as super as previously touted.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring plant chemical found in the skin of grapes, red wine, peanuts, cocoa powder, and certain berries and roots. There’s interest in the chemical because of its proposed antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potential anticancer effects.

Combine that with a possible role in extending lifespan (there’s some evidence for this in yeast and flies), and you can see why this common substance has captured the imagination of medical researchers and the public alike.

But despite all this interest, there’s little research linking resveratrol to favourable health outcomes when it’s a normal part of the diet.

Sure, using high doses of the stuff in supplement form has shown mixed benefits on inflammation and markers of heart disease in short-term studies. But there’s need for caution; studies with supplements are far removed from normal diets – a person would need to drink a case of red wine each day to get similar doses of resveratrol.

This latest JAMA Internal...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.