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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Look at Benefits of Red Wine

Aired November 12, 2002 - 08:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we can see him, but can we hear him? Paging Dr. Gupta, good morning again.
Hello. That's much better.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I didn't even have any wine this morning. I'm not sure what happened there. I apologize.

ZAHN: So tell us why they think red wine might benefit people who might be prone to getting Alzheimer's.

GUPTA: There's this French paradox, people in France eat whatever they want, fatty foods even, and seem to have a very low risk of heart disease. They find that that probably was due to the red wine they are drinking. So there's some known benefits of red wine for quite some time.

What they're finding now, 1,700 people studied for over 20 years who drank wine. Not a bad study if you get yourself signed up for that; 1,700 people they find had a significantly lower risk of dementia, that is Alzheimer's dementia, or what is called vascular dementia. That's the type of dementia caused by many small strokes, if they drank more than a glass of wine a week.

Now, the AHA, the American Heart Association, saying we're not encouraging people to go out there and start drinking the red wine, but we are seeing this effect. Let's figure out what it is about the red wine that's possibly causing this -- Paula.

ZAHN: So what have they found?

GUPTA: What they are finding so far, is there appears to be a compound in red wine called flavonoids. That's the same compound that appears to have some benefit toward reversing heart disease. It acts as an antioxidant to some extent, sort of a broomer of all these the molecules in your body. It sort of brooms them up and gets them out of the way. If you get enough of these antioxidants in your body, there's been a hypothesis anyway that that might actually reduce the risk of dementia, not absolutely proven yet, but that is at least the theory at this point.

ZAHN: Is there any other way to pick up these flavonoids?

GUPTA: Besides going out and guzzling wine?

ZAHN: Yes, because I'm sure that's not the message they want to send out there, right?

GUPTA: Right, absolution. And flavonoids are present in a lot of different foods. You can take a look at some of the foods and drinks here -- dark beer, red grape juice, berries, onions and garlic, tea. Maybe not as much fun as the red wine, but certainly those are other foods you can get the flavonoids. Interesting, though -- and, Bill, I hope you're paying attention -- the beer actually increases your odds of get dementia, as opposed to decreasing it, so beer does not offer you, at least the light beer, does not offer you the same benefit, for whatever reason, as the red wine does.

ZAHN: Are you a dark beer drinker, though, Bill?

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know why he's always picking on me, though. He hasn't had any Cabernet yet today, but I wonder about last night? Is that a possibility.

ZAHN: I am not going there.

You know what I really want to know, doctor, you see onions and garlic on the list. How many onions would one need to eat to equal the, you know, the pack of one glass of wine there?

GUPTA: That's a study for another time, I think, but those foods all do have some flavonoids in them. How much, who knows right now, but some benefit there.

ZAHN: I don't know that any of us are willing to test that out on this set. No one will come talk to us. Four onions a day, and you can get that risk of dementia down.

Thanks, Sanjay. It was so good to hear you, finally.

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