What Are Polyphenols?

What Are Polyphenols?

i polifenoli del vino

We often talk about wine and its health benefits, but what exactly makes wine so healthy? The answer is polyphenols, which are antioxidants that are predominant in grapes along with nutrients, vitamins and sugars.

It’s precisely the potent and “mysterious” polyphenols found in red wine, which act as antioxidants and are known for their anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective properties. The organic molecules characterized by the presence of phenolic groups per structural types. These can be complex and determine specific physical, chemical and biological properties.

Polyphenols can be divided into subclasses per number of phenolic rings present in their structure, based on the elements that bind the rings to each other or to the substituents that the rings are linked to.

Wine and grape polyphenols are mostly contained in the grape skin and seed, and are in fact a mixture of flavonoid compounds. The most abundant group of these are composed of anthocyanins, catechins, tannins and condensed flavanols, and not flavonoids which are hydroxycinnamic acids, stilbenes and hydroxybenzoates.

It is very common that the same product, in this case those found in grapes, contain contents that are different types of polyphenols whose composition is influenced by various factors such as plant variety, conditions of ripening, and processing, both homegrown or industrial. The existing chemical interaction between different types of polyphenolic compounds determines not only the quality of the wine to be drunk, but also certain features such as astringency, bitterness, color and even the wine sensitivity to oxidation.

Polyphenols, being natural antioxidants are our major allies especially in fighting free radicals and activation of the immune system. Given their great variety, it is important to always maintain complete nutrition to allow them to work as efficiently as possible.

Red wine is an important source of these natural antioxidants being that they contain several important varieties. One of the best known is resveratrol, which has been recognized as an important anti-inflammatory activity.