In this week’s news: A buzzkill study related to red wine emerges; a documentary suggests not all calories are created equal; and food dyes appear in unexpected places (et tu, pickles?).
Glass Half Empty, But Cheers Anyway
In 2006, Harvard scientists won the hearts of red wine and chocolate lovers everywhere by reporting that obese mice that were fed huge amounts of resveratrol — a polyphenol antioxidant found in those two foods — tended to live longer and stay healthier. Fast-forward eight years: Resveratrol supplements are a $30 million dollar industry, Dr. Oz enlisted the antioxidant for his “Ultimate Anti-Aging Checklist” and we’ve all been happily drenching ourselves in wine and chocolate. In light of this, a new Johns Hopkins study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine was, well, a bit of a downer. Researchers who studied a group of 783 elderly people in Tuscany’s Chianti region found no association between lifespan and the amounts of reseveratrol these individuals had consumed (presumably mostly through wine). That said, there’s still plenty of reason to raise a glass, says David Sinclair, the lead scientist behind the 2006 study. While it would take 100 to 1,000 times the amount of resveratrol you’d get from imbibing to have the kind of health impact he saw in mice, he points out that there are over three dozen other polyphenols in wine, many with similar and complementary sorts of benefits.