The Taste Of The Mediterranean

Creating a life that is positively good for you...

STEP 8

WONDERFUL WINE (TEA AND COFFEE)
Drink yourself healthy (within reason!)

Wine

© 2010 Adam Poole

In previous chapters we have explored foods that are “positively good for you” and can be consumed in almost unlimited quantities, notwithstanding an overall calorie controlled diet. This is not the case for wine and coffee. Clearly the benefits are “dose dependent” with a moderate intake conferring benefits, but excessive intake reversing the advantages and indeed risking harm.

Wonderful Wine

Wine shares a place in history with olive oil. Celebrated in ancient Mediterranean cultures it has long enjoyed associations with leisure and good health. St Paul was recorded as extolling the benefits of wine.

Moderate regular consumption of wine (1 – 3 glasses per day depending on gender and build) has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease in a dramatic way. It is clear that responsible, enjoyable drinking of wine with fine food and excellent company is the best way of achieving this blessing. And of course this is the way that wine can be most pleasurable. As alcohol is a mild diuretic, always accompany the meal with generous quantities of water to ensure adequate hydration. With water, good food and in relaxed surroundings, moderate drinking of wine is unlikely to cause drowsiness or headaches.

There may be some direct effect of alcohol on stress reduction , however, it is most likely that the bioactive micronutrients are the greatest contributing factors. If this is the case, then it is certainly true that red wine is better for you than white. Red wine contains higher concentrations of antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavanols that have been shown to have anticancer effects, and also a capacity to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of blood clots that lead to heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Drinking wine is a joy! The fact that such a delightful pastime promotes health and well being is an added bonus.

Exploring and celebrating wines with other beautiful foods that are “positively good for you” is a fundamental of a long and healthy life. In the summer in the open air, with company or as an aperetif to romance, there is always a place for wine.

Tea

Tea is another drink with a long history and folklore that has described medicinal qualities.

Recent research has suggested a positive effect of tea on cholesterol levels, blood pressure and probably anti cancer effects.

The antioxidants contained in tea include polyphenols and most specifically catechins.

The bioactive chemistry varies between black, green and white tea. Rather than argue about the most effective tea, the best advice is to enjoy the cup most preferred. A cupboard with a selection of varieties is likely to create the opportunity to relax with whichever tea attracts at a particular time.

How many cups a day?

Studies that have shown health benefits of tea have reported on populations that consume, for example 3 cups a day. One large analysis of the studies to date demonstrated an 11% reduction in risk of heart attack with this average consumption.

Coffee

Antioxidants in coffee have been the subject of research in the last few years. The picture has been confused however by claims that coffee contains “toxins” that are harmful to the heart and might increase the risk of cancer. In addition, the stimulant effect of caffeine has been reportedly associated with an increased likelihood of irregularities of rhythm of the heart.

Essentially there is NO convincing evidence of harmful effects of coffee, drunk in moderation ie 2- 3 cups per day. Clearly, people who suffer from palpitations, heart irregularities or adverse effects of “caffeine overload” should consider drinking decaffeinated preparations.

The specific antioxidants include polyphenols, but the evidence for beneficial effects of these compounds is not as compelling as the studies undertaken on tea.

STEP 8; The Bottom Line- Celebrate fine wine knowing it is good for you. Ensure your three cups of tea a day.