Monday, August 30, 2010

Drink To Your Health.


I am what you call a "social drinker." One of my most favorite things to do is go to a great restaurant, relax, order a glass of wine and enjoy with great anticipation what's to come. The fact that my day has usually included 30 or so minutes of strength training and another 40 minutes of cardio du jour, makes me somewhat tired, ravenous and definitely ready to unwind.  Bring on the wine.   I had an evening like this recently and it got me thinking about the health benefits of wine. I've heard that "drinking in moderation lowers your risk of heart attack",  and between Oprah and Dr. Oz who hasn't heard about the benefits of an element in wine, resveratrol.  So I decided I wanted to know more and went on a mission to discover the real story behind the health benefits of wine.

The commonality amongst my sources was moderation.  Safe and effective amounts is no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.  I'll start with a list of physical benefits but keep reading for a surprising list of traits wine drinkers have that offer another explanation for the apparent health benefits.

- Phytochemicals in wine (flavanoids, resveratrol) act as antioxidants which sop up damaging free radicals (toxic waste products) that play a role in degenerative diseases such as cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinson and aging.
- Phytohemicals in wine produce potent anti-thrombotic agents that can improve cardiovascular health and lower risk for coronary heart disease
- Unlike beer and spirits which are known as risk factors for upper digestive tract cancer, wine drinkers are at lower risk for these cancers
- Moderate amounts of alcohol can raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and thin your blood

It's true that red wine has more antioxidants than white but that's not the whole story.  The antioxidant molecules are smaller in white wine which enables them to be more easily absorbed .  Both red and white contain alcohol and enough antioxidants to get up to 100% antioxidant activity in your body tissue.  Anything after that is redundant.  Here is a great article which explains the science behind this theory.

Warning: The following material may not be suitable for beer drinkers.

Findings of a recent study indicate that people who choose wine over beer may have certain traits that add to the apparent health benefits of wine.

- The average IQ of beer drinkers was 95.2 compared with 113.2 for wine drinkers
- Wine drinkers appeared to be more well adjusted. For instance, women who preferred wine tended to be less neurotic and more extroverted than their peers who preferred beer
- Beer drinkers were more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and smoke heavily
- Overall wine drinking is associated with optimal social, intellectual, and personality functioning while beer drinking is associated with suboptimal characteristics



I was in Yountville, CA recently enjoying wine country, a great Thomas Keller restaurant,  a great art gallery (exhibiting wine watercolors by Eric Christensen that you see in my post) , and the company of my adorable son.  So I close with a question that until now I've never considered. Have you ever seen a beautiful painting or photograph of beer?




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