The wine diet
I may be a bit biased, as I am very partial for a glass of Côtes du Rhone and a bit of dark (>70%) chocolate, so any book that tells me these two are good for me already has one bonus point. On the other hand, I’m not much of a foodie and wouldn’t normally dream of buying a book that has “diet” in the title, so I guess that cancels out.
My lifestyle choices and agreement with the author’s opinion apart, this is an interesting blend of popular science writing and nutrition advice including recipes, all informed by the author’s own research into the effects that one group of chemicals found in red wine and fruit has on the lining of our blood vessels and hence on the health of our heart and circulation.
The short message is that oligomeric procyanidins (and not the more widely known resveratrol) are the likely cause of the “French” paradox, namely the unusually long life expectancy of people in Southern France and other places where a Mediterranean lifestyle is cultivated (Sardinia is the place to be, apparently, if you want to live to 100!). These polyphenols are present in certain red wines (especially in those produced following more traditional procedures), as well as in fruit and berries including cranberries, pomegranate, and raspberries. As these molecules have an adstringent effect as well, modern food processing methods tend to do what they can to remove or destroy them.
The author is very eloquent at explaining what - according to recent research from his lab and others - is good for us, and manages to debunk some “voodoo science” along the way, including the excessive cult of antioxidants. Very interesting read – obviously even more satisfactory if you happen to like the kind of food he recommends.