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Much has been written about the health benefits of red wine, and there are plenty of claims about the how and why.
Roger Corder has researched the connections between red wine and health. He identifies the polyphenols in wine that are active in preventing vascular and heart disease. They are known as 'straight chain oligomeric procyanidins'. Maybe you don't have to remember that name, but just remember to keep drinking red wine.
The evidence for resveratrol as the active ingredient in red wine however doesn't quite stand up. Other substances are now seen as more important. He found that red wine varieties vary in the amount of good polyphenols they have.
Malbec and Tannat are two varieties that are rich in these health giving substances. These varieties are popular in SW France, an area known for the longevity of the people who drink plenty while eating lots of saturated animal fats and foie gras as well.
For years the lower incidence of heart disease in France has been a puzzle. The French diet typically includes substantial levels of saturated fat, which would be expected to cause cardio-vascular problems.
Corder examines regional data comparing health and longevity indices in French regions.
He identifies the Department of Gers in South West France as the area where people where living longest despite a diet which would otherwise indicate high levels of mortality due to heart disease. It just so happens that the wine produced and consumed in this region has very high levels of procyanadins.
Chapters in the red wine diet include
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