The French Paradox is something many people today are getting quite familiar to. Studies have suggested a close relationship between the moderate consumption of red wine and a healthy heart. This phenomenon goes under the name French Paradox because although the French eat as much saturated fat as Americans, they seem to enjoy better overall cardiovascular health. Even though these studies show that polyphenols, which is in red wine, can help your heart, blood circulation, and many other things, doctors still argue about this, especially American doctors disagree with this outcome.
On September 14, 1998, a team from Papworth Hospital in Cambridge England successfully demonstrated that red wine contains a high proportion of substances called polyphenols, which inhibit the deposit of fat in the blood vessels. These plant pigments tend to be a very strong antioxidant. Polyphenlos can be found in grape skins but they are discarded early in the process of making white wine. The study found that ?red wine, but not white wine, has antioxidant activity ? and this difference is most likely due to the content of wine polyphenols in red wine.?(AJCN) Further, red wine consumption increased polyphenols and enhanced antioxidant activity in our blood system. The report said that red wine contained ?abundant polyphenols, such as catechin, quercetin and resveratrol. These are present because grape skins are retained in making the wine.?(AJCN)
Wine chemist Andrew L. Waterhouse told the SCIENCE News that even though many studies support the theory that antioxidants prevent heart diseases. It is still a mystery what in the blood or the low-density lipoproteins, which shuttle fat around in the blood, is slowing the oxidation. ?In other words it may not be a direct effects of phenolics, but instead some indirect change that they trigger ? such as altered fat or protein metabolism.?(Science News, Raloff) Recent studies have only suggested that it was the polyphenols that were causing the antioxidation but were never able to establish any kind of proof that it was the polyphenols that were causing the antioxidation, but they do initiate antioxidation that has often been proofed.
For the past seven years, John D. Folts, director of the Coronary Artery Thrombosis Research and Prevention Laboratory at the University-Madison Medical School, has been investigating the clot-inhibiting activity of a number of common drinks. His studies have shown that grape juice has the same affect on the blood as red wine. His studies have proofed that if you drink a glass of grape juice every day your blood will be much less likely to form those risky clot-forming clumps. Though Folts and others have shown that plain alcohol is somewhat protective, they found that for inhibiting blood clots, wine is much better then pure alcohol. He now suspects that flavonoids, natural pigments found in many plants, are the reason why wine has so enhanced effect. Folts did an experiment with orange, grapefruit and grape juice, and like he had expected, the orange and grapefruit had no affect at all, but the grape fruit showed that the volunteer?s blood was 25 percent less likely to clump than before the treatment began.
Even though all these studies have successfully showed that grapes and red wine can help in preventing a heart disease to develop, another study showed that once the disease has developed, patients should avoid red wine. The research showed that alcohol use was associated with increased blood pressure and increase glucose levels, both mayor risk factors for heart disease.
The American Heart Association (AHA), and especially Dr. Ira J. Goldberg, has fought against the fact that some doctors actually recommend red wine for people in risk of a heart disease. They say that even though many studies have indicated that red wine can help, it is not completely proven, and can vary between people with different diet habits, weight and sizes. To ward off heart attacks, doctors with the AHA say nothing beats the time-honored practices, eating healthfully, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. ?There is no scientific proof that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace these effective conventional measures? (Circulation). Much of the hypothesis that red wine counteracts the effect of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat came from population surveys. They showed lower rates of heart disease, despite high-fat diets, in parts of Europe where people drink wine regularly. However, Goldberg said this observation could be attributed to other differences in diet between Americans and Europeans. Goldberg said that studies have shown that drinking a moderate amount of red wine can increase blood levels of high-density lipoproteins cholesterol, often called good cholesterol. However, a similar increase is seen with exercise programs and medication. He also points out that the pattern of wine consumption differs between Americans and Europeans, where red wine is consumed much more in Europe. It is not right to start drinking red wine a lot in your late years if you are not used to do that.
From looking at all these facts and opinions, I think that it is clear that red wine can help. How and whom is still a mystery, but in my mind I am certain that it can help. The doctors argue about how red wine can help and say that it is too late to start drink red wine now. I agree to that if they can show it is too late for a 40-something-year-old man, but we could use the studies that have proven that red wine can help and look towards the future. We should just investigate that a little better and see if red wine can help those who drink it from early ages. If it shows that red wine can help them, then we should seriously consider trying making red wine more of a habit for young people.
Heber, David.Natural Remedies for a healthy heart. Penguin USA, April 1999.
Nigdikar, Sv.?Consumption of red wine polyphenols reduces the susceptibility of low- density lipoproteins to oxidation in vivo.? American Journal of Clinical Nutricion(AJCN) 14 September 1998: Volume 68, page 258-265.
Raloff, J.?Which is healthier, the wining or dining?? Science News 23 January 1999: Volume 155, Issue 4, page 53.
Shappell, Stephen D. ?Alcohol & Heart Disease.? from heartcenteronline.com. 4 October 2000. http://www.heartcenteronline.com/myheartdr/common/articles.cfm?ARTID=360.
Wu, Corinna. ?Is alcohol the key to the French Paradox?? Science News 4 September 1999: Volume 156, Issue 10, page 150.