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A glass of red may keep arteries loose

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6:57pm, January 2, 2002

Wine dissolves behavioral inhibitions, but a biochemical inhibition may underlie some of red wine's benefits to the heart.

Moderate intake of alcoholic beverages reduces a person's risk of heart disease. Some studies have suggested that red wine has an added benefit. If true, what makes reds special?

A clue comes from endothelin-1 (ET-1), a chemical produced by cells in the walls of blood vessels. High concentrations of ET-1 can constrict blood vessels, a condition that can contribute to heart disease.

Roger Corder and his colleagues at Queen Mary, University of London, set out to test whether drinking red wine might inhibit ET-1 production. They added various amounts of alcohol-free extracts of red wine to cows' blood vessel cells. The more extract the cells received, the less ET-1 they released.

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