When scientists reported last year that drinking a glass of vino nightly can reduce cholesterol levels, tipplers sipped with new abandon. Now, researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., say grape juice is a teetotaler's alternative for lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Leroy L. Creasy, a Cornell plant scientist, began testing grape juice after he identified the compound in red wine believed responsible for reducing cholesterol. Called resveratrol, it's an antifungal agent found in grape skins and released during fermentation. White wines contain little or no resveratrol because the skins are removed before fermentation.
Although grape juice is not fermented, Creasy found that grapes release resveratrol as they're heated in juice production. Analyzing 18 juice samples from three parts of the country, he found that juice contained more resveratrol than 60% of the wines tested. The next step will be to look for resveratrol in other grape products, such as jellies, jams, and raisins.