July 2008

Wine Talk: Antioxidant-rich Wines

Author: Krissy Cantelupe

While most people understand that red wine helps reduce heart disease, studies have also shown that red wine is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants occur in the grape skins, so the more contact with skins, the more antioxidants your red wine would have. But what are antioxidants and how do they benefit your health?

Antioxidants are substances in the foods we eat which can slow oxidative damage to our bodies. When our cells use oxygen, byproducts are produced called free radicals. Free-radicals help contribute to cancer, diabetes, leukemia, heart disease and muscle damage. Antioxidants hunt down and destroy free radicals, thus aiding in your health.

Foods which are rich in antioxidants include carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, leafy green vegetables, blueberries, pomegranates, cranberries, and GRAPES, which means red wine. Red wines are much richer in antioxidants than whites since their grape skins are in contact longer during fermentation. White wines barely have any skin contact, thus are less antioxidant-rich.

So which wines carry the most antioxidants? At higher altitudes, grapes see more ultraviolet light, which stimulates the production of antioxidants. Also, in cooler climates, grapes stay on the vine much longer. They need more time to ripen, allowing for a greater amount of antioxidant levels. Pinot Noirs are high in antioxidants since their skins are quite thin and they come from cooler climates. Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are also rich in antioxidants. They are deep purple fruits with thick skin and high tannins, thus they spend more time in barrel during fermentation.

So stay healthy and keep on the prescribed program: “A glass of red wine keeps the doctor away.” Here’s to a long, happy, and of course, healthy lifestyle.

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