A few days ago I have read an interesting article about new cholesterol and heart disease-fighting chemicals found in red wine. As a red wine drinker, I have immediately looked more into it. What I have found is a chemical that is very helpful. It can indeed lower cholesterol and even prevent you from getting a heart attack.
The chemical is called SAPONIN. It is one of the newest discoveries in health research and it will for sure get more attention in the close future.
What is also interesting about it that people on high fiber, KETO, vegan or vegetarian diet are eating it more often than people on a regular (meat-based) diet. Last but not least, the latest researches show that people drinking red wine have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases
What is saponin?
Saponin is a chemical compound found in various plants. It contains glycoside (small sugar molecule) and the name comes from a plant called Saponaria. The root of Saponaria was used as a soap in the past.
The saponin is also a natural soaping agent which is microbial and anti-fungal.
It can be found in many plant varieties. The foods containing the most saponins are lentils, peas, and soybeans which belong to the family of legumes.
In what other food you can find saponin?
Other food containing saponins are:
- bean sprouts
- red wine
Saponins are thermal sensitive which means that the big portion of them is lost during cooking. Also, a quite big amount can be lost during blanching, soaking or washing. So in order to keep the highest amount of saponins in your food, try to prepare them fast and at the lowest possible temperature.
What are the health benefits of saponin?
Besides the fact, that saponin can lower your cholesterol and prevent heart diseases it also has other health benefits.
- Saponin is an anti-inflammatory agent
- It decreases blood lipids
- Lowers blood glucose
- It is an antioxidant
- Lowers cancer risk
- It positively affects the immune system
Saponin in red wine.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article saponins are found in red wine too. The majority of the researches shows that red wine has a lot of health benefits. Before, they were mostly connected with another chemical found in red wine called resveratrol (a chemical found in grapes) and not saponin.
Both resveratrol and saponin are antioxidants and they can lower cholesterol, but they do it differently. Resveratrol is blocking cholesterol by its antioxidant actions. The saponin is binding to it and preventing the absorption.
Another great health benefit of red wine is described in the so-called French-paradox. French drink a lot of red wine per year and eat heavy and fatty food (in small portions though). But only 7% of French are having heart problems.
It was believed that this is connected to the resveratrol. Today it seems that saponins are as important.
The newest research conducted by Scientists at the University of California, Davis took a look at 6 different wine varieties, 4 red and 2 white ones. What they have found is that there are three to ten times more saponins found in red wine than in white.
Also, the average intake of saponins in the regular diet is about 15mg per portion. In one glass of red wine, you can find about half of it. So to get a normal portion of saponins into your body, it is enough to drink 2 glasses of good red wine.
The red Zinfandel (good that I just started to drink it) has the highest concentration of saponins. It is followed by Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Zinfandel also has the highest alcohol concentration of 16% (also, it has the most calories per glass). For now, we can just assume that the higher the alcohol level in the wine, the more saponins are present.
Please do not take this article as a guide to get healthy. Drinking red wine is indeed recommended for various reasons, but just to drink it is not enough to stay healthy.
Red wine and saponins might help you to cut your cholesterol and lower the risk of a heart attack.
But in the end, you should focus on all the aspects of a healthy lifestyle not only on a diet.