July 14, 2008

Wine Is Healthy In A New (Or Old) Way

Awesome, just awesome.

It's assumed that the benefits of wine are in part due to the plentiful antioxidants.  Problem is, those antioxidants don't actually reach the blood in any appreciable amount. One experiment found that drinking an entire bottle of wine provided less quercetin (a flavonol) than some fried onions or black tea; so drinking one glass (or the USDA's mythical one glass=1/8th of a bottle) isn't going to do much.

But maybe we're looking in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Kanner does a great series of experiments:

Digestion breaks down lipids into hydroperoxides.  (Cooked meats are worse.)  The stomach acts as a "bioreactor"-- the longer time the food/fat spends there, the greater the lipid peroxidation.   In other words, a medium New York strip lingering in your belly is, well, bad.

An experiment with rats found that eating a meal soaked in red wine completely blocked the the generation of malondialdehyde, a common lipid peroxidation cytotoxin:

fat vs. wine.jpg

Sorry, I said that wrong.  Not only did it block it-- it lowered it.  Is anyone writing this down?

I know, I know: this was done on rats.

Well,  the experiment was done in humans: humans who ate the meal and drank a 200ml (1/4 bottle) of wine had a 75% reduction in MDA as compared to no wine.  Wow.

Ah, but if that was the end of the story, this post would only  be suitable for Gawker, or TMZ.com, but certainly not this site.  No, there's more:

if the meal was soaked in 15ml de-alcoholized wine before cooking-- we call that marinating here in Giverny-- MDA increases were completely blocked.

wine and food.jpg

Note the max is at hour three-- after that, food is gone.

The likely explanation is that the polyphenols in wine form secondary bonds to either natural muscle MDA (in the food) preventing their absorption; or bonds to the proteolytic enzymes in the stomach, preventing the release of MDA from the muscle.

Some foods may have more antioxidants (e.g. cocoa) but as cocoa is not usually eaten with meals they may not be as beneficial.  However, eating fruit with/immediately after your meal may be a very smart thing to do.

While the digestive properties of wine have been assumed for millenia, these studies suggest that how we eat, and when we eat, and what we eat it with, may be as important as the individual food itself.

More on wine from the post that started this thread.