The Health Benefits of Polyphenol - rich Foods

Health BenefitsThe results of a BARD funded study suggest that including polyphenol-rich products in the diet helps counteract the generation and absorption of health-hazard fat-digestion by-products.

The high-fat Western diet has long been known to be a health risk. Among the health-hazard by-products of fat digestive processes are "advanced lipoxidation end-products, - or ALEs for short. Studies have shown, for example, that ALEs such as malondialdheyde (MDA) are involved in the thickening of arteries " a disease known as atherogenesis - which may lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, or even death.

In a study supported by the BARD Fund, Israeli scientists collaborated with scientists from the University of Wisconsin to investigate the effects of red wine, which contains polyphenols - chemical substances found in many fruits, vegetables, and their derived beverages believed to protect the body against some common health problems - on the stomach's production and body's absorption of malondialdheyde.

In the first stage of the study, the scientists analyzed the stomach content of two groups of rats: one that was put on a red turkey meat-only diet and one that was given red turkey meat soaked in red wine. The scientists' findings indicate that while the high-fat diet group had elevated malondialdheyde levels in the stomach following each meal, the group that ate a wine-enriched meal maintained normal levels of malondialdheyde.

In the second stage of the study, ten healthy human volunteers were asked to eat red turkey cutlets that were either cooked with no wine and served with a glass of water, soaked in red wine after cooking and served with a glass of red wine, or soaked in red wine prior to cooking and served with a glass of red wine. The scientist's comparison of the volunteers showed that those who ate the red turkey cutlets and drank water significantly increased their malondialdheyde levels following the meal. In contrast, those who ate one of the two wine-enriched meals had little-to-none variation in blood malondialdheyde levels.

Overall, the scientists' research results indicate that while a diet consisting solely of red meat leads to an increase in malondialdheyde levels, both in the stomach and in the blood's plasma, the addition of wine to the meal helps maintain malondialdheyde at healthy levels. These findings have led the scientists to suggest that the main benefit of including polyphenol-rich fruits, vegetables and their derived beverages, such as wine, in the diet as an integral part of the meal arises from their ability to counteract the generation and absorption of ALEs.

The Core Group of Scientists:

  • Kanner J., Gorelik S., Department of Food Science, ARO, the Volcani Center Bet-Dagan, Israel
  • Ligumski M. Gastrointestinal Unit Division of Internal Medicine, Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
  • Kohen R., Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Richards M., and Reed J., Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin, USA