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Wine Advisor Express:
Wine in pills!?

Turning to the silly side of wine today, we're bemused by a flurry of publicity in the London press about a French company that markets a powdered extract made from red wine.

"The producers plan to sell tons of powdered wine, mainly to northern European and North American pharmaceutical companies, which will transform it into pills," according to a report filed by Adam Sage in Paris to The Times of London. "The intiative comes after surveys that seemed to show that a couple of glasses of wine a day may stave off a range of illnesses from heart attacks to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say that this could be due to polyphenols, which are found in red wine and are said to increase the resistance of blood vessels."

The so-called "French Paradox" is no secret, of course. Red wine sales have been soaring since CBS "60 Minutes" aired several reports on the apparent health benefits of red wine, based on the "paradox" that the French seem to enjoy good heart and circulatory health because they consume red wine alongside a rich diet that many Anglophones would consider unhealthy.

The pills have actually been available in the United States for some time, marketed by a Connecticut health-products firm called Arkopharma. For information, although I don't recommend this product as an alternative to wine, see http://www.hfts.com/ArkphrmProdsFullPg.html#FrnchPrdx

Before you buy, however, you might also want to review Dr. Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch site, billed as "Your Guide to Health Fraud, Quackery, and Intelligent Decisions."

In his report on the "French Paradox" at http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/DSH/resveratrol.html, Dr. Barrett observes, "The health-food industry is claiming that resveratrol [a primary polyphenol or antioxidant found in red wine] is the wine component responsible for the 'French Paradox.' While taking resveratrol pills is certainly safer than HEAVY consumption of red wine, supplementing with unproven substances is generally unwise. At this point, occasional use of red wine seems far more prudent."

I agree. Even if it works, where's the enjoyment in popping a pill?

Express Notes:
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Friday, June 8, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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