use their colored background a tan color
have believed for years that alcohol, particularly the alcohol
in red wine, reduces the risk of heart disease. They theorize that
alcohol affects the platelets, the blood cells that help us stop bleeding
when we are cut and, because they cling to fatty deposits on artery
walls, can block the arteries and cause heart attacks. Wine taken with
meals, some scientists believe, helps remove platelets from artery
walls before they can form destructive clots.
role wine may play in the prevention of heart disease
concerns "good" cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Researchers at such institutions as Harvard's School of Public Health
have demonstrated that alcohol can increase the blood's level of HDL,
which -- unlike its evil cousin, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) --
carries away cholesterol before it adheres to artery walls. The
Harvard study showed that consuming two alcoholic drinks a day for
six weeks increased HDL levels by 17 percent. That translates into a
40 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease.
at the University of California at Davis were among those
who looked at wine's nonalcoholic components and the role they might
play in explaining the French Paradox. They found that three organic
acids, or phenols, that are found in the seeds and skins of grapes not
only help give red wines their flavors and aromas but also aid in
preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries. When these phenols
are absorbed into the bloodstream, they act as antioxidants, preventing
LDL from being converted into an artery clogger.
wine consumption may explain part of the French
Paradox, it isn't the whole story. And it's important to remember that
the benefits apply only to moderate wine consumption. Designated
drivers and those people whose doctors have recommended that they
not consume alcoholic beverages are better served with a
Thursday, May. 20
your sweetheart -- and your
good health -- with a glass
of wine and any one of these
candlelight dinners for two.
BY JOANNE LAMB
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES
became intrigued by the
relationship between red wine and
cardiovascular health. We had
heard that the French -- despite
reports that they smoke more and
exercise less than we do as a
nation -- run a 40 percent lower
risk of developing heart disease
than we do.
How could people
appetite for such high-fat foods as
pâté de foie gras, triple-crème
cheeses, and béarnaise sauce
manage to protect their hearts from
-- a beverage consumed in greater
quantities per capita in France
than in northern Europe, the United
States, and Japan -- might
somehow explain the apparent
contradiction, which has come to
be known as the French Paradox.
This month, though,
the fact that something as
enjoyable as a glass of wine with
dinner may actually be good for
you. In that spirit, we have created
five entrées to help you prepare a
special Valentine's Day dinner to
share with your sweetheart and
we've paired each dish with one
of our favorite red wines.
Here's to your
health! Or, as the
French say, à votre santé!