Red Wine for Cholesterol? Yes, Saponin & Resveratrol Show Success Dropping Numbers
If you enjoy the occasional glass of red wine, you could be reducing your cholesterol while you're relaxing. A group of chemicals called saponins in red wine have shown the ability to lower cholesterol, according to scientists at the University of California, Davis.
People have enjoyed red wine, made from various grapes, for thousands of years. Red wine has been in around at least since the Roman Empire, and historians estimate wine was processed as long as 8,000 years ago.
Saponins are chemical phytonutrients called phytosterols and come from the waxy skin of many plants and some marine animals. Saponins are also anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal. They can help in stimulating immune system activity.
If you have heard about what is known as the French paradox, you may know of the link between red wine and a reduced risk of heart disease. It seems despite the delicious high-fat French diet, many in France tend to be less obese than Americans or Brits and have less clogged arteries. This has long been attributed to the compounds catechins and resveratrol, called polyphenols, found in red wine.
Saponins are being found in a larger number of foods and their presence in wine adds to the evidence that red wine may help in lowering your cholesterol. It appears that red wine contains about three to ten times as much saponin as white wine. This is likely because the saponins are found in the grape skins and red wines have contact with the skins for a longer period of time during fermentation.
Tests have shown that of the red wines, Zinfandel has the highest levels of saponins followed by Syrah. Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir had similar amounts.
The magic appears to happen by binding the cholesterol to the saponin molecule and preventing absorption. Red wines also contain resveratrol. Resveratrol is thought to block cholesterol oxidation by its antioxidant action.
Saponins have been found in many other foods including chickpeas, olive oil and soybeans. They are also anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal. They can also help in stimulating immune system activity. These results do not apply to anyone who drinks to excess. Drinking a glass of wine can be good for you, but drinking more has its own health effects that can more than counteract the benefits in wine.
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