Posts Tagged ‘red wine’


January 22, 2016

We try to keep up with the innovations and discoveries in the health and wellness genre, as recent studies reveal better ways of eating and exercising all the time. While many findings are premature and only point to certain conclusions, they come from reputable sources and are worthy of a look-see.

Some, however sound too good to be true, perhaps because they are.
My Facebook feed is full of people posting that certain things are good for their health, because they so desperately want them to be. Diet soda better than water? A glass of wine the equivilent of an hour in the gym?  A chocolate bar a day for weight loss? Pretty doubtful. Yet these are actual headlines that have popped up recently, that people have taken seriously.


The University of Alberta, in Canada found that rats who consumed one glass of red wine per day had similiar benefits to an hour of exercise. Hmm. Although many studies have lauded the resveratol found in red wine, we find this one a little hard to swallow. Compared to an hour in the gym doing what? Drinking wine?  I love a glass of red as much as the next guy, but I don’t think I am going to give up on the gym quite yet.


That study that found that drinking diet soda is better for weight loss than drinking water?Funded by an organization that has Coke and Pepsi execs on the board. The researchers were also paid a stipend by the group, and the lead author was paid by the British Sugar Bureau. Of the 55,000 studies carried out, only the information from three of them were used. Only one of the three was able to show a weight loss benefit for the diet soda drinkers, as compared to those that drank water. Credible? We say highly questionable.


John Bohannon, a journalist embarked on a prank study which bestowed the virtues of eating a chocolate bar a day to promote weight loss. While the news from the faux German study swept the world, the conclusions were, in fact unfounded. You can read Bohannon’s account of the hoax here.

Like with anything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before you settle in for a night of Netflix, accompanied by a glass of wine, a bar of chocolate and some diet soda thinking it is a magic bullet for weight loss, I’d like to chat with you about purchasing a certain bridge in New York.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Wine and Workouts

July 31, 2013


Could that glass of red wine negate the effects of your workout? A new study suggests that it might be.

Red wine, touted for its antioxidant powers from resveratrol, is thought to have a positive effect on cardiac health. A study published in the Journal of Physiology followed 27 men over the age of 65. All followed an intense workout regimen, but half of the men were given a resveratrol supplement, while the others received a placebo. The placebo recipients were found to have lower body fat, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than the resveratrol users. This contradicts the findings in previous studies, which linked the antioxidant to improved heart health.

“We were surprised to find that resveratrol supplementation in aged men blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health parameters, in part because our results contradict findings in animal studies,” said Dr. Ylva Hellsten, the leader of the project, in a statement.

The caveat to the study is that the dose of resveratrol was 100 times higher than what is found in a glass of red wine.

So until further notice, keep working out hard, and enjoy your wine in moderation.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Too Good to be True?

April 4, 2012

Last week was full of great news on the food front. It seems that all my favorite foods were found to have health benefits. How often does that happen?

A new study by the University of Scranton found that the hull of popcorn is rich in antioxidants that have disease-fighting properties and prevent damage to cells.

Of all the whole grains, popcorn is one of the least processed. It is extremely high in fiber, and relatively low in calories…that is until we pop it in lots of oil, and slather it with butter and salt.

Air popped popcorn is the healthiest method of preparation. Microwave popcorn can also be low in calories, but the chemicals in the bags have been found to cause respiratory problems after prolonged exposure.  The “DIY” version is a great alternative. Just put kernels in an untreated brown paper bag, and fold the top over several times. Toss it in the microwave, and zap until the popping slows down.
Season it lightly with sea salt, or some Parmesan cheese.

Caveat: The doctors admitted that further studies were needed to determine if the high fiber content causes the popcorn to pass so quickly through the body that the antioxidants do not have any significant effect.

“Eating chocolate can make you thinner!”

That was a headline that made me look twice.

A study from the University of California at San Diego has discovered that people who eat chocolate regularly have a lower BMI (body mass index) than those who do not.

The team surveyed over 1000 people between the ages of 20 and 85 years old about their eating habits. While the chocolate eating group did not report eating fewer calories or exercising more than their non-chocolate eating counterparts, they consistently had lower BMIs.

The doctors are hypothesizing that there are metabolic benefits to chocolate that would off set the calories consumed “in moderation.” It is speculated that the caffeine in the chocolate could be the cause of the metabolic boost. Dark chocolate is also an antioxidant.

Beware: Most chocolate is very high in fat and sugar, and packs a mean calorie punch. Opt for a tiny piece of dark chocolate, or a bit of Dutch processed cocoa.

I love a little dark cocoa mixed into some Greek yogurt or fat free ricotta cheese as a creamy low calorie dessert.

Red wine has long been touted as a heart healthy drink. A substance called resveratrol is the key ingredient in red wine that has been attributed to lowering “bad cholesterol” and preventing blood clots.  However, the risks associated with drinking alcohol are thought to be much greater than the benefits.  For healthy people, drinking red wine in moderation can be a good thing. For those who are pregnant, have heart problems, take aspirin, or for those with addiction issues, wine is not recommended.

While all of this appears to be great news, the studies admit that their findings are inconclusive. For now, I will stick to the idea that chocolate, popcorn and wine are treats to be indulged in in moderation, and count on my healthy diet and exercise routine to keep me in optimum health.

photos: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week

March 5, 2012

This week has been a killer. With business travel and a closed airport starting things off on Monday, the weekend couldn’t come fast enough. Between the exhaustion and the damp weather, we were seeking some comfort food.
This recipe for Hunter’s Chicken appeared on Food52 and seemed to fit the bill. With a little simplification and tweaks to utilize what we had on hand, this fragrant dish with tomatoes, mushrooms and red wine was just what we were looking for.

Hunter’s Chicken

Soak ½ cup of dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water until soft.

Strain carefully to remove grit, chop and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry one small chicken, cut into pieces. Sprinkle with salt and sauté in olive oil until brown on all sides. Remove and place on a plate until needed.
Add 1-pound clean and sliced crimini mushrooms to the pan and cook until brown. Add the porcinis back to the pan and sauté briefly.

Set the mushrooms aside.     

Add one diced onion to the pan and cook until transparent. Add one small shredded carrot and mix. Add the mushrooms back to the pan, with 2 cans of drained chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and a cup of dry red wine. Add back some of the porcini liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Toss in a liberal amount of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and any other fresh herbs you have on hand. Cook until the mixture melds together, and a bit of the liquid starts to evaporate.

Spread the mixture into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Nestle the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, and cover the pan with parchment paper.

Cook in a 350-degree oven for at least 1 hour or more, until the chicken is starting to fall off the bones, and the sauce is starting to thicken.

Serve with a side of polenta, and enjoy!

Easy Polenta:

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 1-¾ cups of cornmeal (polenta) to the pan, stirring often to remove lumps.

Simmer until thickened and tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, mixing thoroughly.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve with Hunter’s Chicken and enjoy!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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