An English friend of mine tells me that instead of hearing, “Cheers!” when a glass is raised in a pub, you’ll often hear the phrase, “Bob’s your uncle!” The origin of this unusual toast goes back more than a century and involves some British political hijinks that I won’t get into here. These days, this phrase simply means, “no problem,” or “you’re all set.” Just the sort of goodwill we like to share with friends and loved ones as we begin a new year.
The reason I’ve got British toasting on my mind today (besides the fact that it’s New Year’s Eve), is because I came across an article in the BBC News about a newly developed wine that will be of special interest to diabetics.
White over red
French scientists at the University of Montpellier have created a wine they call Paradoxe Blanc. This is a reference to the paradox that, compared to the U.S., relatively few French adults have heart disease, in spite of the fact that the French diet has a high saturated fat content, and cigarette smoking is practically a national pastime. A number of variables may account for this low rate of heart disease in France, but one of the most popular theories holds that the widespread consumption of wine – especially antioxidant-rich red wine – explains the paradox.
This time, however, the wine is not rouge – it’s blanc.
The Montpellier researchers developed this new wine for those with Type 1 diabetes who prefer white wine to red. Diabetics require more antioxidants in their diets than other people because diabetes somewhat impedes the body’s ability to fight free-radicals with antioxidants. Using grapes rich in the red wine antioxidant called polyphenol, the researchers altered the typical white winemaking process (employing several steps used in making red wines), and created a Chardonnay that contains four times more polyphenols than a normal Chardonnay. Tests using diabetic rats showed that Paradoxe Blanc restored antioxidant activity to normal levels.
Dr. Pierre-Louis Teissedre, the lead Montpellier researcher, believes that a glass or two each day of his unique wine (which is now commercially available), may provide a heart-healthy benefit for people with diabetes. And although he might not know it, his advice could also be valuable for those who are in danger of developing type 2 diabetes.
In an e-Alert I sent you last summer (“Therapy of the Gods” 6/25/02), I told you about a U.S. Department of Agriculture study that researched the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption, insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar. The USDA trial, using 63 women, showed that insulin levels were lowered by almost 20 percent in the group that received two drinks per day compared to the group that received no alcohol. The researchers concluded that the consumption of two portions of alcohol daily has beneficial effects on insulin and insulin sensitivity, and may help prevent the development of diabetes in non-diabetic, postmenopausal women.
This study also found that triglyceride levels of the women in the group that received alcohol were approximately 10 percent lower, indicating a possibility that moderate alcohol consumption (whether it’s wine or any other alcohol) may decrease the risk of heart disease.
And in that same e-Alert, I told you about another study from the University of Buffalo that showed how wine intake may improve lung function, with white wine slightly exceeding red wine in positive pulmonary benefits. Once again, the best guess is that the antioxidant qualities of the wine are most likely responsible for the healthy benefits to the lungs.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
Of course, there are many ways to reap the heart, pulmonary and insulin-balancing benefits of antioxidants through a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And as these studies make clear, “moderation” is the key to any health benefit that alcohol might deliver. But it is nice to know that when we raise our glasses this evening to wish each other the very best in the new year, we may actually be starting off 2003 with something quite good for us.
To Your Good Health,
Health Sciences Institute
“New White Wine ‘Good for Heart'” BBC News, 12/12/02
“Healthy Tipple for Drinkers” Shanghai Star, 12/19/02
Copyright 1997 – 2004 by Institute of Health Sciences, L.L.C.