What is so special about wine? What is it that makes it potentially more protective against coronary
In recent years, scientists have concluded without doubt that many human
Without getting too technical, the oxidation process in our bodies is crucial for health, without it, for instance, we would not be able to extract energy from our food. But if there are too many free radicals in our bodies this can be harmful.
Our body has its own defenses against free radicals, in the form of enzymes that are able to turn the hungry little sharks into harmless water. However, sometimes our body’s natural defense mechanisms can’t cope. Other times, external events can cause huge increases of free radicals within our bodies, such as x-rays, cigarette smoke and exposure to toxic substances. At times, this surge of free radicals can swamp our defenses and illnesses such as radiation sickness may take place.
So what does oxidation and free radicals have to do with
Low density lipoproteins, commonly know as “bad” LDL, can penetrate and gather against the inner walls of our arteries, under certain conditions, forming fatty streaks and plaque. Taken alone, LDL particles aren’t so dangerous it seems, however, when attacked by free radicals they turn into dangerous and somewhat aggressive cells, capable of actually penetrating and harming the smooth inner walls of our arteries. This process is called oxidation. Oxidized LDL is known to be the culprit in stimulating atherosclerosis,
Antioxidants, as the name suggests (anti-oxidants) can help stop the oxidation process, which are the results of free radicals doing their stuff. Most antioxidant research has been carried out on vitamins (A, E, beta carotene) but quite a lot of work has also been done on the healthy benefits of red wine. While most research on red wine has been done in relation to coronary
Red wine and Coronary
Red wine contains a wide range of flavanoids; these are the chemicals that give the wine its particular taste and character, making one different from another. Many of these flavanoids act like antioxidants. Perhaps the forerunner of wine research was carried out by a certain Serge Renaud, who discovered the French Paradox, which suggested that wine was the decisive factor in protecting the people in southern France from their very high fat diets and ultimately coronary
Another study, statistical rather than practical, by a Professor Grey of the University of Bern in Switzerland focused on the low, medium and high coronary
What did he find? Well from among the high mortality areas were Finland and Scotland, the middle areas included Ireland, and the low CHD areas included Spain, Italy and France. He then compared heart attack rates with antioxidant levels in blood samples taken from men living in those areas.
Vitamin E and
What he found was very interesting, the results showed that high antioxidant levels, in particular vitamin E, coincided with low death rates of
It certainly seems strange that two much studied cities; Glasgow in Scotland and Toulouse in France show many similarities and yet many differences. The inhabitants of both cities eat tremendous amounts of high fat foods, traditionally take little exercise and drink alcohol. The surprising difference is that while the people of Glasgow have one of the highest rates of CHD in the world, the fortunate people of Toulouse have one of the lowest. Traditionally beer and spirits are the preferred drinks in Glasgow, while the folks in Toulouse drink red wine.
It has also been suggested that drinking in moderation together with meals is beneficial, while binge drinking at bars in the evening is harmful. It seems the southern Europeans don’t drink for the alcohol buzz, but just as a pleasant accompaniment to their meals.
At first the large heart institutions such as the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association ignored both antioxidants and frowned upon wine. While it is clear that it could be potentially dangerous for a physician to recommend his patients start drinking alcohol, it is also strange that they pretended for so many years to ignore the evidence. Well, now even if they don’t promote the taking of vitamin pills; antioxidants and free radicals are now recognized. However, according to the AHA “There is no scientific proof that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace conventional measures. No direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing