November 29, 2006
Procyanidins For Heart Health Come From Old Wine Making Methods

Resveratrol occurs in such low concentrations in wines as compared to the doses used in experiments to tweak sirtuin genes that some scientists suspect that other compounds in wines are delivering the heart healthy benefits claimed for wine consumption. British researchers think the've identified which compounds in wines deliver the biggest benefit and which wines have the most of such compounds.

"The endothelial cells which line our arteries are an important site of action for the vascular protective effects of polyphenols," Roger Corder, of Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, said in a prepared statement. "We purified the most biologically active polyphenols and identified them as procyanidins."

The researchers then tested wines from two regions in southwest France and Sardinia and compared them with wines from other countries. The wines from France and Sardinia had surprisingly high levels of procyanidins, often five to 10 times more than wines produced elsewhere, the researchers found.

Wines high in tannins are the ticket.

The benefit comes from suppressing construction of a peptide that constricts blood vessels.

Procyanidins, however, suppressed the synthesis of a peptide called endothelin-1 that constricts blood vessels.


"The traditional production methods used in Sardinia and southwestern France ensure that the beneficial compounds, procyanidins [tannins], are efficiently extracted," says researcher Roger Corder of Queen Mary's William Harvey Research Institute of the University of London, in a news release.

"This may explain the strong association between consumption of traditional tannic wines with overall well-being, reflected in greater longevity," he says.

Soak the grapes with their seeds longer.

The winemakers of that region tend to use more traditional techniques in which Tannat grapes are soaked with their seeds longer, boosting the procyanidins.

You could also take pills that contain grape seed extract. Maybe swallowing grape seeds while eating seeded grapes is a good idea?

I'm eating dark chocolate and cranberries to get the same compounds. Walnuts, raspberries, blueberries, apples, and dark grape juice are all good source. I would expect that vintners in other regions could adjust their wine preparation techniques to greatly increase the concentrations of the procyanidins as well.

You have options. Choose a way to get more procyanidins.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 November 29 09:03 PM  Aging Diet Studies

Ned said at November 30, 2006 5:44 AM:

A couple of glasses of vin rouge every day keeps the cardiologist away! Sure beats angioplasty or coronary bypass.

Dan said at November 30, 2006 10:15 AM:

From "Why bonobos make love, not war", 30 November 2006, news service, Matt Kaplan:

"Chimps do not eat haumania, which is rare or absent in their habitats, and their diet also differs from the bonobo's in another important way. Hohmann and Fruth have found that vegetation in chimp forests contains significantly higher levels of tannins - noxious chemicals plants often use as a first line of defence against predators, and found in particularly high concentrations in bark, seed coats and other tissues protecting the most nutritious parts. Chimps expend much time and ingenuity preparing their food to avoid ingesting tannins and similar chemicals. Indeed, many experts including Hohmann believe this was a major driving force in the emergence of tool use in chimps."

So, tannins are toxic to chimps but beneficial to humans? Is there a difference in dosage, e.g. small doses prevent heart disease and large doses are poisonous?

Bob Badour said at December 2, 2006 9:35 AM:


The trend is toward red wines with fewer tannins for commercial reasons. Highly tannic wines generally require longer aging before they are palatable. This trend extends to France.


Tannins generally make things taste bitter and give food a gritty mouth feel. If you ever drink wine that is too young, you will notice it has an astringency that makes it feel as if you have bits of sand in your mouth. Chemicals don't have to be toxic to defend against predators. Similarly, skunks are not known as vicious killers; their noxious odor means they don't have to be.

Luke said at March 29, 2007 8:28 AM:

Well I'm trying to get off the whole binge drinking with the lads, but i think it might be bad to stop completely as it might have a relapse effect in the future. I think a glass a day of the high tannin stuff might ease me in, and also be good for my health which is a definite bonus! Even my wife thinks its a bad idea to just stop, but convince myself that everything in moderation, makes everything more pleasurable. It takes time, but preliminary discipline soon turns into familiar routine.

Steve B said at March 28, 2008 2:25 PM:

Does anyone know if high Tannat grape wines produced in other countries have the same level of procyanidins as those in France?

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