Grape Juice - Better Than
Resveratrol may aid in fighting disease, from strokes to
Ithaca, N.Y.--Non-wine drinkers, take heart. You, too,
may benefit from resveratrol--found in wine and thought
to lower cholesterol--by drinking grape juice.
When a Cornell University plant scientist last year
identified the chemical in wine that is suspected to
reduce heart disease risk, he was besieged by non-wine
drinkers who clamored to know if they could benefit from
drinking grape juice.
After analyzing 1990 and 1991 Welch's grape juice
samples from three different geographical regions, Leroy
Creasy, professor of pomology in the New York state
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell,
says the answer is a resounding "yes."
All of the 18 grape juice samples analyzed so far
contained more resveratrol than 60 percent of the wines
analyzed, although one of them had as high a
concentration as some of the red wines, Creasy said. And
while the amount of resveratrol in wines varies
widely--with some wines lacking detectable amounts--the
resveratrol in purple grape juice is "amazingly
constant," Creasy said. The reason, he suspects, is that
purple grape juice is usually made from the same grape
variety--Concord--and the juice-making process is less
variable than wine-making processes.
Creasy had been studying resveratrol as a compound that
grapes produce to fight fungal disease. He had found,
for example, that disease-resistant varieties of grapes
make much more resveratrol than susceptible varieties.
He analyzed wine for resveratrol after research in Japan
indicated that resveratrol lowered cholesterol in rats
and reduced the rate of platelet aggregation associated
with clogging the arteries and heart disease, and
studies in France pointed to beneficial effects of
moderate red wine consumption.
Creasy and a former technician, Evan Siemann, announced
last summer that, in general, red wines tend to be
higher in resveratrol. Red Bordeaux wine had, by far,
the highest amount found so far. Their findings on the
analysis of 30 wines were published in the American
Journal of Enology and Viticulture, Vol 43, No. 1, 1992.
Cresy's research showed that resveratrol is present in
the skin of grapes. So only wines fermented with their
skins have relatively high resveratrol concentrations.
Although grape juice is not fermented, Creasy found that
the hot press method used in juice-making effectively
extracts resveratrol from the skin and seeds.
"Consumers concerned about their cholesterol should
follow their physician's diet and medication advice for
reducing cholesterol," Creasy said. "Drinking grape
juice, however, might help, without any of the side
effects associated with alcohol consumption." Creasy's
next step is to analyze other grape products for
resveratrol, including jellies, jams, non-alcoholic
wines and raisins.
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