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Cardioprotective actions of red wine polyphenols©


Dr Dimitrios Gelis, MD, DDS, PhD, Otorhinolaryngologist

Damaskinou 45, Korinthos 20100, Greece, tel.00302741026631

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SPECIAL INTEREST: Medical nutrition, Supplementary Medicine, Preventive Oncology and Medicine, Vitamin D, Medical aspects of Red wine


Aikaterini D. Geli, MD, Radiologist with special interest in environmental Medicine, Medical Nutrition and Vitamin D

The accumulated evidence and the Epidemiological studies suggest that consumption of wine, grape extracts and other foods containing polyphenols and  purified grape polyphenols is associated with  a diverse array of biological actions and may be beneficial in the prevention of some inflammatory-mediated diseases including cardiovascular disease [1].  

The benefits of wine consumption appear to be greater than other alcoholic beverages. Experimental studies indicate that grape polyphenols could reduce atherosclerosis by a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of oxidation of LDL and other favorable effects on cellular redox state, improvement of endothelial function, lowering blood pressure, inhibition of platelet aggregation, reducing inflammation, and activating novel proteins that prevent cell senescence, e.g. Sirtuin 1. Translational studies in humans support these beneficial effects [2].  

Many in vivo trials have evaluated the effects of grape products on different CVD risk factors. Most published studies have dealt with some specific aspects of mechanisms of grape flavonoid action or have focused only on one product, such as wine [1].

Pérez-Jiménez J, Saura-Calixto F (2008) in the Departamento de Nutrición y Bromatología I, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain reviewed seventy-five trials  dealing with grape products and CVD published during the last 13 years.. Polyphenols, alcohol and dietary fibre were  the main constituents of the tested products. In animal and human studies, grape products had been shown to produce hypotensive, hypolipidaemic and anti-atherosclerotic effects, and also to improve antioxidant status as measured in terms of plasma antioxidant capacity, oxidation biomarkers, antioxidant compounds or antioxidant enzymes. Differences in the design of the studies and in the composition of the tested products (not always provided) could explain the different results of these studies [3]. 

 More clinical studies are needed to confirm these effects and formulate dietary guidelines. The available data, however, strongly support the recommendation that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including grapes, can decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease [2].

The active components from grape extracts, which include the grape seed, grape skin, and grape juice, that have been identified thus far include polyphenols such as resveratrol, phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and flavonoids [1]. Grape polyphenols are associated with the prevention of diseases caused by oxidative stress [5].  

All possess potent antioxidant properties and have been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol oxidation and platelet aggregation. These compounds also possess a range of additional cardioprotective and vasoprotective properties including antiatherosclerotic, antiarrhythmic, and vasorelaxation actions.

Although not exclusive, antioxidant properties of grape polyphenols are likely to be central to their mechanism(s) of action, which also include cellular signaling mechanisms and interactions at the genomic level. Consumption of grape and grape extracts and/or grape products such as red wine may be beneficial in preventing the development of chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease [1]

Grape phenolic concentration and composition depend on agro-geographic factors and processing conditions. In humans, grape polyphenols demonstrated effects such as maintenance of endothelial function, increase in antioxidant capacity and protection against LDL oxidation. Recent patents regarding grape polyphenols show a tendency to return to natural products with a minimum use of severe extraction processes and organic solvents. The new products tend to use grape juice and wine as raw materials and maximize their polyphenolic contents. Grape derived polyphenolic foods, beverages and supplements suit effectively the current demand for antioxidant substances of nutritional interest [4].

It has been suggested that in animal models, red wine may have a protective effect on the vascular endothelium. However, it is not known whether this effect is also present in human small vessels and whether it is specific for certain wines. Porteri E, et al (2010)  compared  in their study  the vasodilator effects in subcutaneous small resistance arteries of wines with different flavonoid content as well as of ethanol vs. wines in normotensive subjects and in patients with essential hypertension .

Their  results suggest that red wines are more potent vasodilator than ethanol alone, possibly depending on the content of polyphenols or tannic acid. Hypertensive subjects show similar responses compared with normotensive  subjects, indicating that red wine is not harmful in this population [5].

Very rich in polyphenols wine is the Greek wine Gkelanto. This is an organic by nature, straw sweet wine from Nemea Greece (the variety Agiorgitiko). Gkelanto , by its nature, does not contain conservatives, such as sulfites, but it is kept unchanged by his natural sugars. Two spoonfuls of Gkelanto per day provide not only polyphenols, but also all the other valuable constituents of red wine such as anthokyanins and tannins, without receiving useless quantities of alcohol [6]. 


1. Leifert WR, Abeywardena MY. Cardioprotective actions of grape polyphenols. Nutr Res. 2008 Nov;28(11):729-37. 

2. Dohadwala MM, Vita JA. Grapes and cardiovascular disease. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1788S-93S. Epub 2009 Jul 22. Evans Department of Medicine and the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.

3. Pérez-Jiménez J, Saura-Calixto F. Grape products and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Nutr Res Rev. 2008 Dec;21(2):158-73. 

4. Gollücke AP. Recent applications of grape polyphenols in foods, beverages and supplements. Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2010 Jun;2(2):105-9.

5. Porteri E, Rizzoni D, De Ciuceis C, Boari GE, Platto C, Pilu A, Miclini M, Agabiti Rosei C, Bulgari G, Agabiti Rosei E. Vasodilator effects of red wines in subcutaneous small resistance artery of patients with essential hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2010 Apr;23(4):373-8.

6. Gelis DN., Kamilatos Ch., Papadimitriou Th., Gkiolis A., Syrianos N., Mendrinos D. The curative abilities of the red wine. IATRIKI KORINTHIA, 3:31-34:2009.

Copyright: Dr Dimitrios N. Gelis, MD, DDS, PhD, Otorhinolaryngologist, Korinthos, Greece

Last Updated (Friday, 16 August 2013 21:45)