Consumption of red wine makes a person less vulnerable to cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Besides, it helps the cells in the body to produce vitamin C.

These findings have come out in a research conducted by a team of scientists from the biochemistry department of Allahabad University. The findings show that red wine is rich in a compound called resveratrol which plays an important role in prevention of many diseases and works against the anti-aging phenomenon of human body.

Detailing on the findings, associate professor in the department, Syed Ibrahim Rizvi said, "Red-wine helps in fighting diseases and improves body functions because of the presence of resveratrol, a compound found largely in the skin of grapes and also found in red wine." In a paper published in October 2010 issue of Pharmacological Reports, Polish Academy of Sciences, Rizvi and Kanti Bhooshan Pandey, have provided evidence of a new mechanism of action which explains the beneficial effects of resveratrol on human body.

Pandey explained that human cells contain a plasma membrane called redox system (PMRS). A compensatory protective mechanism operates to maintain the level of acorbic acid (Vitamin C) in this plasma and minimises the alterations in biochemical parameters in the cells during conditions of oxidative stress. The two scientists have provided evidence that in blood, resveratrol is taken up by red blood cells and once inside the cell, resveratrol donates electrons to extra cellular acceptors by increasing the activity of PMRS and AFR reductase enzymes which results in regeneration of Vitamin C in plasma.

This mechanism of resveratrol gets more important, since Vitamin C is a known primary antioxidant present in plasma but humans are unable to synthesise it due to lack of functional L-gulonolactone oxidase, the final enzyme of the Vitamin C biosynthesis in the body, said Pandey.

Rizvi said that it has been baffling for scientists that under laboratory conditions, resveratrol is required in much higher amounts to show effects similar to what is observed under normal conditions. The amount of resveratrol ingested through a glass of wine or red grapes is not sufficient to elicit health benefits in studies conducted under laboratory conditions, he added.

The French paradox is the observation that the French suffer a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. Later, it was found that this was due to the presence of resveratrol. The phenomenon was first noted by Irish physician Samuel Black in 1819. The term French paradox was coined by Dr Serge Renaud, a scientist from Bordeaux University, France, in 1992.

From the November 15, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition