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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 01:01 GMT
New white wine 'good for heart'
White wine
Could Bridget Jones's favourite tipple be good for the heart?
The health benefits of red wine may now be found in a Chardonnay, according to researchers.

Red wine has long been thought to offer more protection against heart disease.

Now winemakers have developed a white wine which they say has the same benefits as red.

There is no definitive proof that red wine is more beneficial than moderate amounts of other types of alcohol

Belinda Linden, British Heart Foundation

The wine, created by researchers at the University of Montpellier in France, is called Paradoxe Blanc because of the paradox that French people are partial to cigarettes and fatty foods, but suffer relatively low levels of heart disease.

One theory is that this is because they drink wine with their meals.

Fat deposits

Red wine is believed to be a "healthier" choice because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols.

These mop up damaging free radicals, and that could prevent fat deposits building up in arteries.

Alcohol facts
Women's limit - 14 units per week
Men's limit - 21 units per week
1 unit of alcohol = 1 small glass of wine, half a pint of normal strength lager or beer or 1 measure of spirits
Polyphenols are concentrated in the skin of grapes.

Red wine has high polyphenol levels because of the way it is made.

The researchers, led by Pierre-Louis Teissedre, chose white grapes which were rich in polyphenols.

They also changed the wine-making process so it was more like that for red wine, including steps such as heating up the mixture to a higher level than normal.

The end result was a Chardonnay which had polyphenol levels four times higher than normal.

Moderation

The wine was designed for people with Type 1 - or juvenile - diabetes, whose bodies are less effective at mopping up free radicals than normal.

Tests carried out on diabetic rats showed the wine restored antioxidant levels in the blood back to normal, even if all the alcohol was removed.

But tests have not yet proved it reduces fat deposits in arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The research has been published in the magazine New Scientist and the online version of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Dr Teissedre said a glass or two of the wine a day could benefit people with diabetes.

But Eleanor Kennedy of the charity Diabetes UK said: "The best way to get antioxidants is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

"People with diabetes should only drink alcohol in moderation."

Singled out

Belinda Linden, head of medical information at the BHF, said: "One to two units of alcohol are thought to provide some protection against coronary heart disease, but large or excessive amounts can be harmful.

"Red wine has been singled out as beneficial because it contains antioxidants, which can help to lower blood cholesterol levels.

"However, though it is claimed that red wine contains more antioxidants than other alcoholic drinks, studies are ongoing.

"There is no definitive proof that red wine is more beneficial than moderate amounts of other types of alcohol, so this new wine may not be very different."

See also:

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