Australian scientist takes the guilt out of the guilty pleasures of wine and chocolate

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th August 2011

A leading Australian researcher at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology has designed new compounds that mimic the activity of antioxidants found in wine and chocolate, which have potential applications in fighting disease.

Dr Aaron Micallef is a free radical chemist and associate investigator for the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology. He believes the new compounds will promote the body’s natural antioxidant defences, neutralise damaging free radicals in the body and fight the onset of diseases associated with free radical damage, such as heart disease and arthritis.

“Free radicals are implicated in many processes in the body, such as inflammation, ageing and cancer. They can be very damaging, but we are conducting research into how we can use antioxidants to neutralise free radicals and prevent this damage,” Dr Michallef said.

“Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help mop up damaging free radicals in the body. It means we are taking the guilt out of pleasures such as red wine and chocolate.

“I have a soft spot for a good glass of red wine and dark chocolate myself, so the research is definitely very appealing.

Reactive free radicals are believed to be the cause of the accumulated damage in cells that contributes to ageing and degenerative diseases. Antioxidants can protect against this damage, either neutralising the radicals directly or promoting the body’s natural antioxidant defences.

Dr Micallef said his synthetic compounds would have potential applications in fighting disease if they were found to mimic the protective properties of the antioxidants found in red wine and chocolate.