Potent “super-food” compounds found in the wine can work as well as a daily dose of medication for people with Type 2 diabetes.
The discovery will come as welcome news to the 2.5 million people in Britain suffering from this form which can cause strokes, heart attacks and blindness.
Scientists discovered antioxidants in red wine can be just as effective as a daily dose of a combative drug.
The polyphenols – biologically active compounds in the wine – operate in a similar way to the drug rosiglitazone which is now banned.
The research was carried out before the ban came into effect.
Experts from Vienna’s University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences found that a 125ml glass each day was enough to provide people with Type 2 diabetes with their daily dose of medication.
As well as the 2.5 million sufferers, a million more are thought to be living undiagnosed with the condition. Type 2 diabetes normally develops in middle age as a result of obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle.
The scientists, whose study is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Food and Function, said the recommended daily dose for treating Type 2 diabetes using rosiglitazone is between 4mg and 8mg.
The team said 100ml of the tested red wines was equivalent to 1.8-18mg of rosiglitazone. It adds to the mounting evidence about the health benefits of a glass or two of red wine.
Rosiglitazone, also known as Avandia and made by GlaxoSmithKline, was taken by 100,000 people in the UK until it was recently banned because of increased risk of heart problems.
But Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “It is very difficult to see how this limited research will have any benefit to people with Type 2 diabetes. It is a basic study into the chemistry of red wine and has no clinical relevance at this stage. The researchers have made an astonishingly bold suggestion.”
Cheers! Here's to good health
- One 175ml glass a day can lower the risk of heart attack, helping to open blood vessels to prevent clots forming
- It also gives the daily required dose of iron (10mg for men, 15mg for women) and can help bone density in both sexes.
- Red wine has also been shown to preserve eyesight - a compound called reservatrol protects against the formation of damaged blood vessels which can cause blindness
- It can also protect against cancer due to the high polyphenol content in red grape skins
- Research indicates that moderate red wine consumption can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, the so-called “French” effect