Do you drink an occasional glass of red wine in the evening after a stressful day at work? Are you also a bit confused about which foods are good for you and which ones to avoid? Well, its getting even more interesting now.
We’ve long known that dietary factors are being found by researchers to play a role in the prevention or cause of cancers. Edible items from fats to chewing tobacco have been implicated as cancer causing agents, while others such as fiber and some vitamins can offer protection. Well, add to the list of good dietary products: red wine, garlic, onions, and soy sauce, although please, not all at once.
Dr. Terrance Leighton, professor of microbiology at the University of California in Berkeley, identified a substance called quercetin which is found in these foods and, ironically, can also be a carcinogen. However, he says that its power as an anticancer agent simply overwhelms its danger as a mutagen, or cancer causing one. Found in a wide variety of foods, quercetin is active in the micromolar range, in directly blocking the proliferation of cancer cells. In case you are not familiar with the micromolar range, try looking for it just this side of the Rocky Mountain range. Dr Leighton noted that Chinese who are on diets high in allium vegetables, such as onions and garlic, which have incredible levels of quercetin, have twenty times less cancer risk than those without these vegetables.
Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin reported that mice given a cancer-causing diet developed fewer tumors if they had soy sauce on their food. Mind you, what they don’t tell you is that the salt in the soy sauce probably gave the mice swollen ankles, high blood pressure, heart failure, and kidney disease, but hey, this is only a cancer experiment.
Here’s the news about red wine: in moderation, it has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits and may help prevent heart disease by protecting against artery damage. Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease.
The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, has been suggested as one way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.
Other foods that contain some resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It’s not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.
While this update about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, the medical community is wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That’s because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.
Here’s an action tip:
Medical research comes and goes, and foods that were the villains of yesterday can come back into favor. In the meantime, until we hear evidence to the contrary, it seems we can all sit back to a Chinese vegetable meal, have a glass of red wine, and take the medical news not with a grain of salt, but with a shake of soy.