Grape expectations

By • Published: April 16th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Praise for the vaunted grape has finally reached the bitter dregs.

Now even the gritty remnants of the winemaking process are being hailed for health benefits.

A recent study from Cornell University found that the seeds and skins cast off from red wine grapes contain large concentrations of chemicals believed to prevent bacteria from attacking our teeth.

Already, grapes, grape juice and wine… in moderation… are touted for their ability to prime the cardiovascular system and protect brain cells.

The suspected source of the health benefits are polyphenols… chemical substances found in plants that may have antioxidant characteristics.

It turns out that winemaking residue, known as pomace [PUH-mus], contains at least as many polyphenols [polly-FEE-nahls] as whole red grapes, leading scientists to believe that drugs could potentially be made from the waste.

Researchers tested their theory by analyzing how polyphenols extracted from pomace fared against S. mutans [ess MEW-tans], a bacterium found whenever there is tooth decay.

Score one for grape grit.

The extracts juiced the destructive bacteria, rendering the offending pathogens harmless.

The idea now is to isolate the bacteria-busting compounds within pomace to develop a new kind of mouthwash to combat tooth decay.

With our tongue firmly outside of our incisors, we wonder what it would be like to start the day with a mouthwash containing chemicals from a nice Chianti or hearty Burgundy.

Our teeth may thank us for it, but it might be a good idea to stay away from the boss!