Researchers in the U.S. have found that a compound found in grapes and red wine can significantly reduce age related health problems.
A joint team from Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging say the compound, known as resveratrol provided heart benefits, enabling stronger bones and preventing eye cataracts.
The team reached this conclusion following a laboratory test using mice where the one year old creatures (equivalent to human 35 years) were placed on either a low-calorie diet, or a high-calorie diet along with low or high resveratrol doses.
The higher resveratrol and higher-calorie diets had similar effects to low-calorie diets and low-resveratrol diets in terms of health benefits.
The resveratrol fed mice had good cardiovascular health, strong bones, less obesity related problems, better balance and coordination, better eye health.
The researchers found the general health and vigor of the mice on a long-term regimen of approximately one year of resveratrol improved overall, without apparent side effects.
However it was only the mice consuming resveratrol alongside a high-calorie diet which were found to actually live longer.
The researchers say overall, the animals' health improved under all dietary conditions, which was reflected in a reduction of osteoporosis, cataracts, vascular dysfunction and declines in motor coordination.
The research revealed that resveratrol had a calorie reversing effects because the mice on high calorie diet should have been overweight or obese, but they were not.
This goes some way to explain the 'French paradox', where French people who as a rule enjoy high calorie rich food, remain slim, probably because they drink red wine with every meal.
Resveratrol is also found in the skin of grapes and the crust of peanuts and walnuts.
The research is published in the July 3 online issue of Cell Metabolism.