Red wine found to keep hearts evergreen

June 4th, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 4 (IANS) Why do the French, gorging on a diet rich in saturated fats, have more robust hearts than other nationalities with similar eating habits? The answer may be found in small doses of resveratrol, a natural constituent present in grapes, pomegranates, red wine and other foods, according to an international study.

Specifically, resveratrol in low doses was found to mimic the effects of “caloric restriction” — or diets with 20 to 30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet — that has been shown to extend lifespan and fend of aging.

Previous research has shown that resveratrol in high doses extends life in invertebrates and prevents early mortality in mice given a high-fat diet.

The new study, conducted by researchers from academia and industry, extends those findings, showing that resveratrol in low doses and beginning in middle age can induce many of the same benefits as a reduced-calorie diet.

“Resveratrol is active in much lower doses than previously thought and mimics a significant fraction of the profile of caloric restriction at the gene expression level,” said Tomas Prolla, co-author of the new report.

“This brings down the dose of resveratrol toward the consumption reality mode,” said co-author Richard Weindruch, of University of Wisconsin. “At the same time, it plugs into the biology of caloric restriction.”

The group explored the influence of the agent on heart, muscle and brain by looking for changes in gene expression in those tissues.

In the new study — which compared the genetic crosstalk of animals on a restricted diet with those fed small doses of resveratrol — the similarities were remarkable, explains lead author Jamie Barger of Madison-based LifeGen Technologies.

In animals on a restricted diet, 90 percent of those heart genes experienced altered gene expression profiles, while low doses of resveratrol thwarted age-related change in 92 percent.

The authors conclude that a glass of wine or food or supplements that contain even small doses of resveratrol are likely to represent “a robust intervention in the retardation of cardiac aging”.

These findings have been published in the latest edition of the open-access journal Public Library of Science One.

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