red wine in glass and bottleYou’ve probably heard that a little red wine each day is good for your heart. So maybe it was just a matter of time before someone got the idea of putting its antioxidants into a stent.

Commercial stents can release chemotherapy agents that are toxic and can cause the blood vessel to narrow again. LSU Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences Professor Tammy Dugas is developing a new stent that releases red wine antioxidants slowly over time that promotes healing and prevents blood clotting and inflammation. The two antioxidant compounds are resveratrol and quercetin.

“By delivering red wine antioxidants during conventional angioplasty, it may be possible to prevent excess tissue from building up and the blood vessel from narrowing again as it heals,” Dr. Dugas said.

Dugas is also developing a balloon that could be used to deliver those same compounds when treating blockages elsewhere in the body.

It’s pretty cool – and perhaps a better, if less enjoyable, way to deliver those antioxidants to where the body could use them. In fact, some researchers now question whether a daily drink is as healthy as earlier studies suggested. As Vox recently reported,

In particular, an impressive new meta-study involving 600,000 participants, published recently in The Lancet, suggests that levels of alcohol previously thought to be relatively harmless are linked with an earlier death. What’s more, drinking small amounts of alcohol may not carry all the long-touted protective effects on the cardiovascular system.

“For years, there was a sense that there was an optimal level which was not drinking no alcohol but drinking moderately that led to the best health outcomes,” said Duke University’s Dan Blazer, an author of the paper. “I think we’re going to have to rethink that a bit.”

But there’s a robust and growing body of knowledge about red wine antioxidants.

For instance, we know that while resveratrol is well-absorbed when taken orally – like when you drink a glass of Shiraz, Merlot, or other red – it’s metabolized and eliminated fairly quickly. Effective supplemental forms have been developed, though, sometimes in combination with the other “red wine antioxidant,” quercetin.

But quercetin may also be effectively taken through diet. Lots of foods contain it – berries, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, citrus, beans, tea, and more. Supplements are available, too, including some that combine it with resveratrol.

Research has shown that these compounds help lower inflammation and oxidative stress. In addition to protecting against heart disease, some research suggests that they may help lower cancer risk, as well. Both of these, notably, are health problems marked by chronic inflammation.

We look forward to seeing what comes from Dr. Dugas’ research and if these stents do become available to patients who need them. After all, releasing antioxidants is so much better than releasing drugs that may help manage symptoms but also add to the body’s overall toxic burden.

When you’ve got toxic and nontoxic options, why opt for the toxic?

At the same time, though, the approach focuses on addressing damage after the fact. Even better is to prevent the need to go to such lengths at all. For just as resveratrol and quercetin – and other antioxidants – may be helpful in treating disease, they’re also powerful tools for maintaining good health over a long lifespan.

Prevention is certainly a lot cheaper and safer, as well.


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