Mechanism of Polyphenol Action
Nitric Oxide is a small molecule that your body uses under different conditions to dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow though a specific area of the body. This molecule is beneficial to people suffering from atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels) because it increases the diameter of the arteries and arterioles, thus decreasing the chance of a heart attack. So how does all of this relate to polyphenols?
Polyphenols from red wine, specifically Stilbene (trans-Resveratrol), induces Nitric Oxide production which then stimulates an endothelium (the layer of tissue surrounding the blood vessel) – dependent vasodilatation. Basically, these molecules in red wine relax the blood vessels, allowing the passage of blood to be unobstructed.
Blood clotting is also a major problem that affects people with atherosclerosis because their arteries and arterioles are narrowed from plaque build up. This narrows the arteries to the point where naturally occurring clots in the blood stream can stop blood flow altogether and induce cardiac arrest. This is a problem.