In an attempt to profit from studies suggesting wine molecules might help to ward off cancer and heart disease, French viticulturists were transforming the fruit of their vines into pills, health tonics and other dietary supplements, The Times of London reported Monday.

With vineyard revenues falling as alcohol consumption declines in France, an attempt was under way to tap into the teetotal market by creating health foods from parts of the grape that used to be discarded.

"It’s essential for us," said David Ageron, business manager at Vitimed, a unit of l’Union des Distilleries de la Mediterranee, one of France’s biggest wineries.

His trade traditionally involved transforming wine residue into state-subsidized industrial alcohol.

But with the European Union ordering an end to the subsidies over the next 24 months, producers were developing medicines and supplements based on grape seed or grape skin extracts.

They hope to generate a new source of profit by exploiting a contested scientific theory that claimed rates of heart disease were lower in France, despite a fatty diet, because of moderate wine consumption.

"We absolutely must find some way of extracting value from the waste products," Ageron said.

He made a dietary supplement based on a red wine extract containing a high concentration of polyphenols, an antioxidant touted as a shield against disease.

Now he was trying to the persuade the food industry to use the molecule as a health additive in drinks, yogurts and other products.

"We think the market is ready now," he said.

Source Link: The Times of London