Entries in wine (2)


Quercetin and Resveratrol?

Two buzz words in nutrition and supplement research – quercetin and resveratrol.  What is the lowdown?  Should you take a supplement or just eat the food?

The simple answer is unclear.  Quercetin is a type of antioxidant known as a polyphenol.  Two categories of polyphenols are flavonoids and non-flavonoids.  A flavonoid is a pigment in food that has important health benefits.  Besides antioxidant activity, flavonoids are known for their prevention of heart disease and cancer, since they can lower cholesterol levels and inflammation in the body.

Quercetin is found in the greatest concentration in apple skins, but can also be found in red grapes, green tea and buckwheat.  Several positive studies were done with animals, including one in which quercetin supplemented mice were less likely to get the flu.  Human studies to date have been inconclusive on supplement usage.

Resveratrol is a non-flavonoid polyphenol that is found in grapes and grape skins.  It has strong anti-inflammatory effects in the body which can be helpful in the prevention of atherosclerosis.  Wine drinkers tout they are getting their resveratrol for the day.  However, you would have to consume 180 glasses of wine per day to obtain the amount necessary for health.  Studies are also inconclusive on supplement usage.  More importantly, many supplements tested do not contain the amount of resveratrol that is stated on the bottle.

Bottom line?  Until more research is in, eat apples and grapes, and drink green tea.  You will be receiving the quercetin and resveratrol your body can readily use and absorb and there is nothing to lose except bad health…and maybe the flu.


Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Several years ago I got asked to speak at a women’s conference and address the connection between diet and cancer. After researching foods to include and foods to avoid I was surprised to find the strong correlation between alcohol intake and breast cancer. Were the alcohol companies just good at hiding these studies?

Since that time, multiple studies have established the link between alcohol intake and breast cancer risk. Wendy Chen, M.D., Ph.D., a cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, presented her research data at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2005. Her study tracked the health of 122,000 women since 1976 that were free of cancer when the study began.

When compared with those who did not drink, they discovered the following:

• Women who drank the equivalent of half a glass of wine a day were 6 percent more likely to develop breast cancer
• Women who drank the equivalent of a glass or two of wine per day had a 21 percent increased risk of breast cancer
• Women who drank the equivalent of two drinks per day had a 37 percent increased risk of cancer

Alcohol can increase breast cancer risk since it:

• Increases blood triglyceride levels
• Increases estrogen levels in blood circulation
• Decreases the liver’s processing of excess estrogen in the blood and decreases immune function.

A 2009 study published in the UK in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed similar results in women consuming alcohol: consuming as little as one drink per day increases a woman’s risk of several types of cancer by 13 percent.

Everyone reads about how a glass of red wine per day is good for your health. However, the studies that have looked at the correlation between wine and health have consistently shown that resveratrol is the component of alcohol which prevents disease, which is not in the fruit of the grape, but is contained in the skins. Therefore, just eating some grapes every day with skins can be more beneficial to health than a glass of wine.

So the next time you have a snack, reach for some grapes and have a few nuts or a piece of hard cheese for balance.