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The Beauty of Wine
By O’rya Hyde-Keller
You cheered when news broke that a glass of red wine a day is actually good for your heart. Turns out it’s not just imbibing the stuff (in moderation, of course) that may have health benefits. Lately, wine has been popping up on the ingredients lists of moisturizers, face masks, and body scrubs—and for good reason: The same properties in wine that can help your heart and prevent cancer may also sustain your skin.
So what’s the reason for vino’s skin-benefiting power? Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant abundant in the leaves, twigs, and bark of grapevines. Like other antioxidants, resveratrol neutralizes free radicals churned up by exercise, digestion, and breathing and in response to pollution, UV radiation, and other harmful substances in the environment. Free radicals—unstable molecules missing an electron—attack healthy cells in order to replace that electron and thereby damage the skin. Antioxidants fight back: “They slow down cell damage and the progression of wrinkles and appearance of aging in the skin,” explains Jeanette Jacknin, MD, dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine For Your Skin (Penguin Putnam, 2001).
While resveratrol research is still in its infancy, the substance has shown major promise as an extremely aggressive antioxidant. One recent study found it to be 17 times more effective at scavenging free radicals than idebenone, which had been considered one of the most potent antioxidants. And wine—especially red wine—is one of the most concentrated sources of resveratrol you can find. “Red wine, which is fermented with the skins, seeds, and twigs, tends to contain much larger quantities of the beneficial substances than white wine, which is fermented only from the pressed juice of the grape,” says Jacknin.
In addition to resveratrol’s robust potential to stymie free radicals, it may also help your skin in other ways. Studies conducted on animals show that resveratrol may protect against UV damage that results in dark spots, wrinkles, and leathery skin. “It’s a key point to note, however, that resveratrol has been shown to prevent this damage, as opposed to reversing it,” says Lauren Fornes, licensed aesthetician and founder of FaceParlour.com, which reviews beauty products for efficacy and purity of ingredients.
Resveratrol may also help people who battle blemishes, since grapes produce the combative substance when under attack from bacteria. “These antimicrobial properties make it great for people who are prone to acne and blackheads,” explains Fornes. In fact, a recent study in The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy showed that resveratrol slowed the growth of bacteria associated with acne.
And there’s even more good news from the grapevine: In addition to resveratrol-packed red wine, grapeseed extract is another potent antioxidant, according to recent research. The extract is available as grapeseed oil, expelled from grapeseeds separated from the skins and juices of grapes during the wi...
Author: O’rya Hyde-Keller
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