(NaturalNews) Omega-3 fatty acids, mainly derived from cold water fish like salmon, are known to help prevent coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Now European researchers have found that moderate wine drinking acts like a booster for omega-3s -- it raises the levels of the beneficial fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells. This major finding of the European study IMMIDIET will be published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
, an official publication of the American Society for Nutrition, and is available on line now (www.ajcn.org
"Several studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption, including wine, is associated with protection against coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Although the mechanisms are not completely defined, there was some evidence that alcohol intake might influence the metabolism of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, as omega-3," scientist Romina di Giuseppe of the Research Laboratories at Catholic University of Campobasso, Italy, who headed the research, said in a statement to the media. "That is exactly what we found in our population study. People drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, one drink a day for women and two for men, had higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and red blood cells independently of their fish intake".
However, as the scientists point out in the study, this benefit of red wine could be attributed to polyphenols instead of the alcohol content of wine
. Polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant activity, are naturally occurring compounds found in a different variety of foods including berries, tea, beer, olive oil, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, walnuts, peanuts, pomegranates and grapes used in wine-making.
"Analysis carried out on different alcoholic beverages showed that the association between alcohol and omega-3 fatty acids was present in both wine drinkers and beer or spirits drinkers. However, the association was stronger between wine drinking and omega-3 fatty acids levels," Licia Iacoviello, coordinator of the IMMIDIET study
at Catholic University of Campobasso, explained in the press statement. "This suggests that components of wine other than alcohol are associated with omega-3 fatty acids concentration. We may guess this effect can be ascribed to polyphenols".
More good news for moderate wine drinkers: A study by Cornell University scientists recently published in the journal Neurochemistry International
found that resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine
, peanuts, and pomegranates, could help treat neurodegenerative diseases. In an animal study, the scientists fed resveratrol for forty-five days to mice with Alzheimer's type plaques in their brains. The result? The polyphenol diminished plaque formation. This supports the idea, the researchers concluded, that neurodegenerative diseases may be delayed or mitigated with use of dietary agents such as resveratrol.
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