Health & Wines

Florida Wines
The Health Benefits of Muscadine Grapes

By Yolanda Roundtree

The next time you sit down for dinner, don't forget the bottle of wine — Florida that is. Most Florida wines are made from muscadine grapes — a variety of grapes that contain the highest level of antioxidants ever tested in a natural product. Muscadine grapes are fat free, high in fiber and high in antioxidants. The health benefits of wine have been studied for years and research has indicated that moderate drinking can reduce heart attacks by 50 percent. According to Dr. Serge Renaud, a French scientist and pioneer in alcohol research "Antioxidants in wine help prevent damage to blood vessels, help prevent heart disease... as many of 400 other chemicals in wine raise the level of HDL in blood. HDL is the good cholesterol that helps prevent heart attack and stroke."

You never thought that having a glass of wine with dinner had a purpose other than helping to wash down that last savory bite of chicken, beef or fish. However, the health benefits of drinking wine are greater when wine was consumed with meals instead of consumed by itself, according to Dr. Mauizio Trevisan from the University of Buffalo. "Drinking with dinner assures that the protective effects of alcohol are strongest in the evening, when fats from the dinner meal circulate through the bloodstream and carry over to the next morning, when most heart attacks take place."

According to M.D. News Magazine, recent tests show that resveratrol from muscadine grapes can block cancer cells from attacking organs, thus preventing the spread of the disease once it starts. Programs at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York City showed that resveratrol was very effective as an inhibitor of the growth of COX, a compound present in breast cancer and other cancers. Compounds that inhibit COX offer promise as a cancer prevention agent by making cancer cells vulnerable to the body's natural defenses. Initial studies showed that resveratrol inhibits tumor growth at three different stages — initiation, promotion and progression. Growing research also notes that additional benefits are in the grapes themselves. "If you don't drink wine, try some jams or a muffin made from muscadines," says Dr. Betty Ector, nutrition researcher at Mississippi State University. "They're an even better source of resveratrol. One half serving (two fluid ounces) of unfiltered muscadine juice, one serving of muscadine jam, one medium muffin, or one-tenth serving of muscadine sauce contains about the same amount of resveratrol as four fluid ounces of red wine."

Florida has 16 unique vineyards throughout the state that produce wines from a variety of muscadine grapes and other Florida agriculture products.