Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Red, Red Wine

The French Paradox is common knowledge now, right? The French (who do get fat, btw) eat a high-cholesterol, high-saturated fat diet, yet suffer less from heart disease than Americans. We've all heard that red wine may be the reason.

A UCLA study breaks it down and even shows that red wine may fight Alzheimer's disease and certain tumors. Polyphenols, which occur naturally in red wine and "block the formation of proteins that build the toxic plaques thought to destroy brain cells, and further, ...they reduce the toxicity of existing plaques, thus reducing cognitive deterioration."

I'll drink to that! The study used polyphenol from grapeseed--how dull. Sticks in your teeth. I'll choose a nice Cab over grapeseed any day.

For the record, tea, nuts, berries, and cocoa also contain polyphenols. No one can prove that the polyphenols in Beaujolais are more beneficial than those found in peanuts. . . but do you want to risk your heart's health? After all, do peanut munchers at ballparks and dark bars where you drop the shells on the floor incur fewer incidents of heart disease than the French? I think not.

As for my crack about the French getting fat, I suppose I'd better back that up. Here's New York Times article from 2006 about the childhood obesity problem, which sounds a lot like the US' childhood obesity problem, with the same culprits identified: soda and snack machines at school, etc. The article also mentions that French women have less and less time to cook, and families have less and less time to eat together or linger in cafe's (which are in decline--see this post), and in short, the whole idealized French way of enjoying food is crumbling before a new paradigm of time-pressed workers grabbing high-calorie meals from fast food restaurants.

ABC News ran a piece about this in August 2008, which said, "An estimated six million French are obese, and 14 million overweight. France has an overall population of about 60 million. "

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