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Is Red Wine the Key to the 'French Paradox'?

Narrator: This is Science Today. The French Paradox refers to an observation that people in France have lower rates of heart disease, despite having a diet rich in saturated fats. Their high consumption of red wine is thought to be the reason behind this trend. Andy Waterhouse, the chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, says early studies seemed to indicate that a compound found in red grape skins called resveratrol was responsible for the French Paradox.

Waterhouse: What we found, though, was that the level in wine is very low and probably couldn't explain the whole French Paradox. So, we started looking at other compounds and did a lot of research on what's called catechin. It's another phenol - it's called a flavenoid. And we actually showed that when drinkers consume wine, that catechin shows up in their blood and that's supposed to be the cause of reducing heart disease. But the difficulty is in getting clean data from epidemiological studies.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.