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    Archive for the ‘grapes’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Antioxidants in Wine

    red wine glassDo the antioxidants in wine decrease with time like they do with olive oil?

    For example, if I drink a wine from 1996 tonight, am I not getting any of the health benefits I would from one that was bottled earlier this month?

    — Cassandra (last name withheld)
    San Francisco, CA

    The issue of health benefits from red wine can get rather dizzying.  Let’s recap the latest batch of information:

    • Do older wines have lower antioxidant levels than newer ones?  No.  A study published in 2006 in the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture compared wines ranging from 1 to 28 years old and concluded that, on average,  “antioxidant activity of red wines does not correlate with wine age.”
    • The “on average” is particularly important, since some antioxidants increase with age, while others decrease.  For example, a 2003 study in the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture found that the anthocyanin content of red wine decreased by an average of 88 percent over a 7-month period.
    • It is difficult to generalize antioxidant levels of wines since these are affected by several factors, including the particular variety of grape used, aging methods, pH levels, and even the specific strain of yeast used in the fermentation process.
    • Resveratrol (the famous antioxidant found in high amounts in the skins of red grapes) levels are higher in grapes that grow in cooler climates.
    • Pinot Noir has the highest level of resveratrol

    I wouldn’t get too concerned with these details, though.

    Remember, red wine is not the only source of these antioxidants.  Red grapes — with the skin on! — basically deliver the same health benefits.

    Anthocyanins, for example, are found in abundance in red grapes, cherries, raspberries, and blueberries.  Instead of shunning vintage wines because of their low anthocyanin content, just eat any of those fruits on a regular basis.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Grapes vs. Wine

    Out of curiosity, how many grapes would someone have to eat to equal a serving (how many ounces is that?) of wine?

    Also, is grape juice just as healthy as wine?

    — Patricia (last name unknown)
    Berkeley, CA

    Is it only red grapes that offer health benefits?

    — “WifeMomChocoholic”
    Via the blog

    As I mentioned in a previous post, the same buzz-worthy components in red wine are available in red grapes. One slight exception to the rule is resveratrol, which is simply more concentrated in wine.

    One reason you don’t hear quite as much about white wine, by the way, is because the production process separates the grape’s flesh from the skin (for red wine, the whole fruit is used).

    If you want to talk numbers, your average bottle of wine is made from approximately 600 grapes.

    Now, let’s do some math.

    A standard wine bottle contains roughly 25 ounces. According to MyPyramid guidelines, one serving of wine is equal to 5 ounces.

    Therefore, one serving of wine contains 120 grapes. That helps us better understand the recommendations of drinking, rather than eating, the fruit.

    That is not to say, of course, that you need to eat 120 grapes to get health benefits (FYI — one serving of fresh grapes is made up of 15 individual pieces).

    As far as grape juice is concerned — the health benefits are not quite up to those of wine.

    Remember, the vast majority of grape juices are made from concentrate (which is largely made up of the naturally-occurring sugars). Consequently, a lot of the polyphenols and antioxidants found in grape skins do not make it to the final product.

    Although red wine (and, therefore, red grapes) offers a wider variety of healthful components in larger amounts, don’t cast off white grapes. Even though white wine is not made from grape skins, the fruit’s flesh offers a fair share of polyphenols and antioxidants.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Popular Healthy Foods

    Why is it that there is much talk about eating olive oil, wine, and tomato products and not simply olives, grapes, and tomatoes?

    Surely the benefits of the processed forms are even more present in the whole form of the food.

    Or is that not the case?

    — Corey Clark
    (Location withheld)

    I love this “thinking cap turned on” question!

    Here is my take on each of the pairings:

    Olive oil vs. olives: Everyone cooks with some sort of fat; not everyone eats olives.

    So, in order to have as many people as possible reap the benefits of olives, it makes more sense to suggest they use olive oil in their cooking/salad dressings rather than eat olives.

    Also, olives have a much stronger flavor than olive oil. Many people who enjoy olive oil do not find olives palatable.

    Although olives offer more vitamins and minerals than olive oil, 120 calories of olives (equal to 1 tablespoon of olive oil) offers almost half of the daily recommended limit of sodium!

    Tomato products vs. whole tomatoes: Cooked tomatoes offer higher levels of lycopene than their raw counterparts.

    Wine vs. grapes: This is one I never understood. Grapes offer the same healthy compounds as wine. This is why I always tell people that if they regularly eat grapes but do not drink wine, they are not missing out on any health benefits!

    I personally think this comes back to the “reaching as many people as possible” goal that applies to olive oil.

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