Home   Restaurant Page   Essays   Journal
Antioxidants are found in fruit, raw vegetables, tea, grains, seeds and wine. As mentioned wine is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, which is high in antioxidants. The antioxidants in wine are called polyphenols. Red wine, especially, is great source of polyphenols. There are over 200 polyphenols in Red wine. They change the chemical properties of blood plasma, making it more resistant to oxidation.
To confirm the health benefits of these polyphenols, researchers in Denmark separated them from the wine and then applied them to breast cancer cells independent of the alcohol. They arrested the growth of these dangerous cells leading to the feeling that wine polyphenols might be effective against cancer cells. Indeed research is being done right now as we speak on the anti-carcinogenic properties of wine. Theoretically some of the polyphenols of wine might be used for disease prevention.
Elias Castanas, a Greek researcher, was given purified polyphenols from Cabernet Sauvignon, with no alcohol. He showed that these antioxidants from wine inhibit breast cancer cells and prostate cancer cells. He said that these polyphenols have an antiproliferative effect on cancer cells. He suggests that future research might show that 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day might even inhibit breast and prostate cancer. As he stated: “Wine is good and good to your health.”
The antioxidant components of red wine, its polyphenols, include flavonoids (related to flavor), anthocyanines (related to color), and tannins (related to aging). The anthocyanines and tannins come from the skins, seeds, and stems. Hence they are only found in red wine. Red Wine has 10 times as many Polyphenols as does White wine. 35% of its polyphenols are found in its Tannins, while 20% comes from the Color.
White wine has no color or tannins because it has no skin contact. Blush wine has just a little skin contact. Because of this blush wine might have more polyphenols than white wine.
In one study volunteers were given either a 1/2 bottle Red or a 1/2 bottle of White wine with their meal. The Red Wine raised the level of antioxidants in the blood, while White Wine had no effect. Indeed the quantity of antioxidants in the blood peaked after about 1/2 hour, and lasted about 2 to 4 hours.
Further good news comes for red wine drinkers. In another study a high fat diet was fed to volunteers. They were treated in four different ways. Some were given red wine, white wine, fruit and vegetables, or nothing at all. All three treatments raised the level of good cholesterol in the blood: Red wine by 14%, White wine by 9%, and Fruit & Vegetables by 5%. In terms of damage reduction: Red Wine reduced it by 50%, White Wine by 16%, and Fruit & Vegetables by 42%. Further the artery size of the volunteers who consumed Red wine increased, while the size was unchanged for the rest of the groups.
An lady Italian researcher, Rotundo, also inspired by Renaud, showed that Red wine was effective in neutralizing a high fat diet. Specifically she looked a thrombosis, which is a fancy name for blood clot in the veins and arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. A high fat diet, especially one high in saturated fats accelerates Thrombosis. Due partially to the fat, blood platelets stick to the arterial walls. This causes inflammation, which can eventually lead to death or disability from stroke or heart attack.
Rats were fed with a high fat diet for 6 months. Clotting was reduced by 60% in those treated with red wine. Neither white wine nor ethanol, the active ingredient in any alcohol, had any effect on clotting.
Rotundo said that the Red wine she used had 3 times the antioxidants of White wine or ethanol. She said this was because, unlike White wine, Red wine is fermented with grape skins. As we’ve mentioned, the majority of the polyphenols are found in the grape stems, seeds, and skins. The fermentation process seems to effectively extract the polyphenols, into a source that can be used by the human body. Rotundo recommended having red wine daily with food.
Orgogozo, also inspired by Renaud, discovered that Red Wine helps prevent the onset of dementia, of which the most common type is Alzheimer’s Disease. In an epidemiological study characteristic of wine research, living data was generated for 4000 men and women from Bordeaux France over 65 years of age. Of those who drank, 95% drank mostly Red wine, as would be expected in the region known for its world class red wines.
After 5 years those who drank moderately, i.e. 2 to 3 Glasses of Wine per day, where a glass is 4.5 oz, had 80% less dementia and 75% less Alzheimer’s than those who didn’t drink. After 8 years there was 50% less dementia than in those who didn’t drink. Or in those who only drank a little. The mild drinkers, i.e. those Drinking less than 2 Glasses of Wine per Day, were no different than the non-drinkers in terms of dementia. Therefore drinking just a little wine was of no help against dementia, at least in Bordeaux. Only 3% of the population were heavy drinkers, i.e. drinking over 3 Glasses of Wine per day which was not enough to draw any conclusions. There were only a few hundred women in the sample, who drank moderately. Amazingly enough there was no Dementia or Alzheimer’s in this group after 10 years. Orgogozo stressed that one needs at least 2-3 glasses per day to benefit.
Before going out and beginning to regularly consume large quantities of red wine to prevent dementia, let it be pointed out that his sample of people came from Bordeaux France, which consumes a diet very high in saturated fats. Therefore the conclusion would be that if you are to eat a diet high in saturated fats like those in Bordeaux France (or America) that you would be advised to drink large quantities of red wine to counteract the rapid oxidation of your brain cells due to the excess fat in your blood stream.
Orgogozo said that red wine was better than any drug approved by American Medical Association for dementia. Drug companies only need to demonstrate that their product will result in a 15% improvement to be approved by the AMA. The drug oriented AMA will probably not approve wine as a medicine in the near future. Competition.
To show the immensity of the health problem due to serious diseases, let us cite a few statistics. In 1999, 1/3 of the global deaths were due to heart disease. This amounted to 16 million people. Cancer claimed 1/8 of the deaths – 6 million people. Further dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is a type, affects some 11 million globally, of which 4 million live in the US. These are all serious diseases that have to do with the rapid oxidation of cells. Wine, especially red wine, contains many antioxidants, which retard and prevent this overly rapid cell death.
Wine has many other health benefits as well. Wine has over 200 components, including 8 B vitamins, 18 Amino acids, 12 other vitamins. In Italy wine is prescribed for women during their menstrual cycle to relieve tension. Wine used to treat anemia because its iron content counteracts iron deficiency.
Despite the many known health benefits of wine, it is illegal for a doctor in the US to prescribe it as medicine. As a contrast in Italy wine is regularly prescribed for a wide variety of ailments. Indeed in the US old people are regularly told to stop drinking alcohol for their health, which is probably a pretty good idea because most Americans, especially older Americans drink whiskey, which is not good for health. What they don’t say is give up your whiskey and start drinking wine to counteract the negative effects of your high fat diet. They never serve wine in student cafeterias, hospitals, or prisons, because of its alcoholic connection with whiskey and beer. Wine has been stigmatized and stereotyped by the company it keeps. While liquor deserves its rep, wine and beer are innocent bystanders.
Moderate wine consumption even contributes to healthy liver functions. While excess wine consumption leads to cirrhosis of the liver, spirits are even worse. This is because spirits are normally consumed without food. Nutritional deficiencies contribute to cirrhosis of the liver. Because of the complexity of the liver functions it needs a complex blend of food to continue operating properly. When people stop eating and just drink they are starving their bodies nutritionally as well as poisoning it with excess alcohol. Together it leads to nutritional and alcohol induced cirrhosis of the liver. Because wine is normally consumed with food, it leads to cirrhosis much less frequently than do spirits, which are rarely consumed, with food.