Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Red Wine Diet by Roger Corder a book review by (PB)

Corder is Professor of Experimental Therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute of London. Don't let the title throw you; this isn't one of those tabloid fad jump-on-the-wagon weight-loss plans like "How I Lost 50 Pounds in Two Weeks eating Twinkies." Corder's is a comprehensive review of the research surrounding the often touted benefits of drinking red wine with the credit going to a substance known as "resveratrol" which he effectively debunks in the book. So Corder's intention was to identify what, in fact, the heart healthy substance is and where it is found in greatest quantities in the fruit of the vine. One hint-- You won't find it in all the mass produced-- and very popular--red wines from the land down under.

Even with all the details, minutia and typically long words used in the world of medicine, the book is readable and understandable. Admittedly, I come at the book with an atypical background of medicine having been educated in my first career as a Medical Technologist. But the average person can easily skim the jargon and still know the salient points being made. Adding to the books readability is the summarization of key points at the end of each chapter.

If you are familiar with the claims of late concerning the benefits of red wine for everything from kidney, artery, and heart health to the prevention of cancer, a substance called resveratrol has been getting the credit. But Corder's research shows that resveratrol occurs in such small quantities in red wine that "it's hard to see how drinking or even swimming in wine can provide sufficient resveratrol to reach protective levels." (p.37)

Corder's answer? A polyphenol called procyanidin, which occurs at a level 1000 times greater than resveratrol, is the healthy gemstone of red wine. And the good news for people with an aversion to alcohol, is that the same benefit can be derived from purple Concord grape juice.

Corder's method of approaching the subject is confident and practical. Just drinking alcohol containing beverages is not a healthy choice. Just drinking white wine in hopes of deriving all the health benefits touted for wine in general will not benefit you much either. The key is drinking red wine and the right red wines at that!

Corder's research is comprehensive delving into the method of vinification, the terroir, the altitude at which the grapes are grown. All the general conditions surrounding the production of grapes impacts the content of the wine's procyanidin levels. He lists specific types of wine and regions of the world where one can generally expect procyanidin rich wine. Therein is the value of the book as a resource.

In a nutshell--a very general nutshell which needs and receives much qualification--old world wines are richer in procyanidins than new world but there are so many caveats to that statement, a read of the book is essential.

The first 8 chapters contain the essence of Corder's thesis. The rest of the book contains some informative "myth busting" with meal plans topped with a well rounded encouragement throughout for a balanced lifestyle. If you have any interest in the health benefits of wine, this is a must read.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this review and thanks to Roger for writing the book itself - gives me justification for my glass of red wine every evening. Till now I just blamed in on being part french!

And don't think they I'm not considering using my two acres of meadow to plant grapes...

So - wine drinkers, unite!

Adriaan said...

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