Blog | Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some sobering news about wine

Adding to the good news about red wine, a new study in the November issue of Nutrition Research reports that red wine and other foods rich in the polyphenols found in grapes may help reduce LDL cholesterol, blood clotting, abnormal heart rhythms and blood vessel narrowing. "Supplementation with grape seed, grape skin or red wine products may be a useful adjunct to consider for a dietary approach in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases," the authors comment in a news release.

But you might want to put away the corkscrew after reading another new study that looked at the metal content of both red and white wines. The study, published in the open access Chemistry Central Journal, found that the vast majority of wines from 16 different countries contain hazardous levels of metal ions--potentially putting drinkers at risk for Parkinson's disease, chronic inflammatory disease and cancer. Using the Target Hazard Quotient (THQ)--a formula developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--as a basis for comparison, the researchers found that most wines far exceeded safe levels of metal--ranging from a low of 50 THQ to a high of 300 (a THQ over 1.0 is considered hazardous).

There were geographic differences, however, that might influence your next beverage purchase. Wines from Italy, Brazil and Argentina were on the low end of the THQ scale whereas Hungarian and Slovakian wines reached 300 THQ. Risk is based on consumption of one 250 ml glass of wine per day--researchers didn't get into how much the risks might increase as a result of binge drinking or mixing wine with other alcohol, or effects on the elderly, young or sick.