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Showing posts from August, 2010

Resveratrol: natural supplement or pharmaceutical breakthrough?

Before we delve into this too deeply, keep in mind that the answer might be neither one. Resveratrol, the antioxidant polyphenol from red wine that I dubbed the “miracle molecule” in my book, has had an interesting career. It first came into the spotlight in the early 1990’s following the “French paradox” story on the CBS-TV show “60 Minutes” as a potential explanation for the effect. Research attention ramped up quickly, and there seemed to be no end to the list of beneficial properties on health and longevity. The real breakthrough was the discovery that resveratrol was an activator of an enzyme called sirtuin, responsible for a specific metabolic change associated with dramatically increased longevity. Overnight an obscure field of biochemistry research blossomed into a massive supplement industry.


But an interesting thing happened on the way to the marketplace. The scientist who is credited with the discovery of resveratrol’s sirtuin-activating abilities, Christoph Westphal, parla…

Is wine-fed beef a healthier choice?

Leave it to those crazy Canadians to come up with the idea of feeding wine to beef cattle. While so many stockyards are filled with cows standing knee-deep in their own droppings, bloated from a corn-based diet, these bovine bon vivants are sipping red wine and eating organic. According to Jandince Ravndahl of Sezmu Meats in British Columbia, “They moo at one another a little more and seem more relaxed. There are a few that lap it up out of the pail. After they've had it for a while, when they see us coming with the pitchers, they don't run, but they come faster than usual.” Do pre-marinated cows make healthier beef?


Apparently it is at least more tender and has a sweeter taste, though I have not had the opportunity to try it myself. I can however think of many reasons why it would be healthier. Pairing red wine with beef has a specific health advantage, in that the iron in the hemoglobin – this is what makes red meat red – is a potent oxidant neatly counteracted by red wine’s…

Why the proposed ban on direct wine shipping would be harmful to public health

A number of convoluted laws came into place following prohibition, many of which are based on the same faulty reasoning that led to curbs on alcohol sales in the first place. Although wine remained somewhat available during prohibition (people took a lot of sacramental wine it seems), a ban on direct shipping to consumers remained for a number of years. These regulations varied from state to state, with many states allowing wineries to ship directly to their customers within the state, but gradually a system of reciprocity between states with such allowances developed and was confirmed in a 2005 Supreme Court ruling. An echo of prohibition rang out this year however with the proposal in Congress (H.R. 5034) to ban such sales.


Unsurprisingly, the bill was put forth by wholesalers, who would stand to lose by being bypassed. But rather than draw attention to the real reasons behind the proposal, the lobbying campaign in support of it trots out the same tired public health arguments that …