While antioxidants in red wine have been shown to have health benefits, a recent study conducted at the Boston University Medical Center provides insight into what exactly the compounds do to the body.
A team of scientists examined the effects of polyphenols from red wine on rats, and it found that the rodents experienced improved artery function and ability to exercise after 24 weeks of ingesting a solvent containing the antioxidants.
The study authors said the improved vascular health may be due to lowered oxidative stress in the arterial wall. As individuals age, the inner lining of blood vessels, known as the endothelium, tends to lose its ability to foster proper blood flow, leading to cardiovascular disease.
The polyphenols from red wine halted endothelial dysfunction in the rats and also normalized the expression of certain proteins.
"Intake [of red wine polyphenols] had also a physiological beneficial effect since it improved the physical exercise capacity of old rats," study authors noted.
The American Heart Association has estimated that more than 81 million Americans suffer from a form of cardiovascular disease. It has also reported that coronary heart disease caused by atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of arteries, is the leading cause of death in the United States.