Procyanidin: Why This Tannin Keeps Your Arteries Flexible and Blood Pressure Low, and the Best Sourc
Procyanidin, a polyphenol extracted from grape seeds, has
scientists and nutrition buffs excited. Why? It's an antioxidant
powerhouse that also appears to provide major heart-healthy
Certain types of red wine (low alcohol, highly astringent
varieties) are rich in procyanidin, but it's also found
in a host of other foods.
in fact, are great for your health. They work by scavenging
harmful free radicals in your body, and evidence is emerging
that these compounds prevent the spread of a number of degenerative
conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative
But there's something special about procyanidin that even
trumps the talked-about resveratrol (the grape skin compound
that's been found to extend the lifespan of yeast cells by
up to 80 percent).
What Makes Procyanidin so Health-Promoting and Unique?
Procyanidins are, in essence, condensed tannins (the compound
in wine that gives it a bitter flavor). They've been found
Studies have also found that procyanidins limit production
of a compound that's responsible for hardening your arteries.
However, what makes procyanidin so unique is that it is highly
bioavailable, meaning that your body can easily utilize it
(unlike resveratrol). In red wine, which is one source of
procyanidin, the compounds make up as much as 50 percent of
the bioactive compounds.
"Resveratrol is available at one one-hundredth or one
one-thousandth of the levels of procyanidin," says plant
biochemist Alan Crozier of the University of Glasgow.
Procyanidin is a triple whammy for heart health, boosting
good cholesterol, protecting your arteries from hardening,
and keeping tissues and blood vessels healthy.
Meanwhile, Crozier and his colleague, Dr. Roger Corder, found
another interesting association when comparing two French
regions that had an above-average
number of long-lived men and wine production. It turns
out that the areas with the most men who lived to be older
than 75 years also produced local wine that contained four
times the procyanidins as other wines.
Dr. Roger Corder, professor of experimental therapeutics
at London's William Harvey Research Institute, is so enthusiastic
about procyanidins' benefits that he says a "half a bottle
of wine a day might keep the doctor away."
Wine is NOT the Only Source of Procyanidin
If you want to get more of this heart-healthy compound into
your diet, you do not have to take up drinking large
quantities of wine (or any for that matter).
In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of
Nutrition, both chocolate (high-cocoa-content dark varieties)
and apples (particularly Red Delicious and Granny Smith) have
a greater procyanidin content than even red wine.
So, if you're looking to fortify your diet and your heart
with the beneficial procyanidin, start incorporating some
of the following foods and beverages into your daily diet
Meanwhile, if you're opting to drink a glass of red wine,
remember that the more bitter and astringent, the better,
at least as far as your heart health is concerned. According
to Corder, traditionally made "old-world" wine (with
lower alcohol content and lower ripeness) is best.
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Valley Register May 11, 2007
of Nutrition. 2000;130:2086S-2092S