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Maximizing Your Health With Wine: The Amount Vs. Type

Sunday, December 16, 2007 by: Lynn Berry
Tags: wine, heart disease, health news

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(NewsTarget) There are a number of studies showing the benefits of including wine in a healthy diet. The most recent is one conducted by the Karolinska Institute on 25,000 women in Sweden. This study looked at women that consumed fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain products, fish and half a glass of wine.

The benefits of this diet in the prevention of heart disease was significant. For example, non-smokers who also exercised cut their risk of heart disease by 90%. However, many other studies show an increase in alcohol related diseases including gastrointestinal, liver and pancreatitis.

The question is whether the half glass is helping prevent just one type of disease, but potentially increasing the risk of others. Or is it just the amount that is consumed, and if so do we need a prescription for alcohol?

First, the amount is certainly triggering the increase in alcohol related diseases and deaths. A US government site states that there are 75,000 deaths per year due to excessive alcohol use and this is binge drinking where 4 or more drinks are consumed at a time, see (www.cdc.gov/alcohol) .

Between 1970-1998 there was a 900% increase in cirrhosis (a liver disease) in under 45 year olds in the UK - reported by the Institute of Alcohol Studies, see (www.ias.org.uk). The liver is responsible for detoxifying the contents of the blood stream and when you consume over 4 glasses of wine per day it works overtime to clean up your system. If it works like this over a long period of time, the liver tires and may fail.

Second, we have to distinguish between the type of alcohol, and if the alcohol is wine, then the kind of wine. Certain red wines contain properties that aid in the prevention of heart disease and other ailments.

Dr. Roger Corder, a scientist at William Harvey Research Institute and author of The Red Wine Diet, found that some red wines contain flavonoid polyphenols called procyanidins. These procyanidins help protect our heart and prevent fatty deposits latching onto our arteries.

Red wines have significant fermentation time, 3 to 4 weeks, which allows time for the procyanidins to be extracted. Most wines are fermented in a week which leaves little or no procyanidins. Corder also found that some grapes, such as cabernet sauvignon, helped make wines that are rich in procyanidins.

The highest proportion of centenarians (those living over 100) in Europe live in Sardinia, an island off the west coast of Italy. The Sardinians drink wine which has the highest concentration of procyanidins in the world.

Corder lists locations that produce wines with high levels of procyanidins. South west France and Sardinia are top of the list. Wines elsewhere include the Australian wines - D'Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale) and Wynns reds from the Coonawarra; and the US wines - Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve from California and Matthew Cellars Red from Washington State.

Dr Serge Renaud studied 34,000 middle-aged French men of eastern France and reported that drinking 2-3 glasses of wine a day results in a 30 percent reduction in death rates from all ailments, a 35 percent reduction from cardiovascular disease, and an 18-24 percent reduction from cancer. Note that the diet in this region is high in saturated fats, and that they typically drink at mealtimes when alcohol is more easily absorbed.

Who is to say that if the women in the Karolinska study had a glass or two of procyanidin rich wine, whether that would have altered the figures.

Studies of diets and wine should say what kind of wine as it is clear that some are much better for you than others - those that contain procyanidins when drunk in moderation. To help us choose the right wine, perhaps a kind of rating is needed.

If wine is not your thing, then berries, apples, pomegranates, walnuts and chocolate (up to 25g daily) contain this property.

About the author

Lynn Berry is passionate about personal development, natural health care, justice and spirituality. She has a website at www.lynn-berry.com.

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