Alcohol, acetaldehyde and acetic acid

Sojourn

Recent investigations have suggested that acetaldehyde may be responsible for the development of alcohol addiction. Acetaldehyde in the brain may inhibit enzymes designed to convert certain nerve transmitters from aldehydes to acids. The nerve transmitters that accumulate may then react with the acetaldehyde to form compounds which are startlingly similar to certain morphine-type compounds.

http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/642alcoholmet.html

The French Paradox, vitamin K2 the key

The French Paradox, the claim the French lived longer than Americans because they drink more red wine was put forward by Dr Serge Renaud in the 1990’s. He said red wine had nutrients like resveratrol which helped reduce heart disease. Even though the French had  more dairy products like cheese, in their diet

This claim has since been debunked because you would have to drink so much red wine to get enough of these nutrients, to increase the risk  of other diseases like cirrhosis. The research did highlight the presence of vitamin K2 in the French diet.  Vitamin K2 is a known factor in reduced levels of heart disease. The vitamin is to be found in green leafy vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products.

The French diet is rich in vitamin K2

In her 2012 book, Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, Canadian nutritionist Kate Rhéume-Bleue proposes that the explanation for the lower rate of cardiovascular disease in France is the high level of vitamin K2 (also known as menaquinone) in some of the fattier foods that form a part of the French diet. Lack of vitamin K2 in the diet is linked to increased calcification of plaques in artery walls.

Rhéume-Bleue writes,

The French Paradox isn’t a paradox at all. The very same pâté de foie gras, egg yolks and creamy, buttery sauces that we inaccurately labeled “heart attack on a plate“ literally supply the single most important nutrient to protect heart health.[23]

As one example, Rhéume-Bleue points to the fact that a 3 ½-ounce serving of goose liver pate contains 369 micrograms of menaquinone, while a 3 ½-ounce serving of pan-fried calf liver of the kind frequently eaten in North America contains only 6 micrograms of menaquinone.[24]

The French diet is rich in short-chain saturated fatty acids and poor in trans fats

In his 2009 book Cholesterol and The French Paradox, Frank Cooper argues that the French paradox is due to the lack of hydrogenated and trans fats in the French diet.[25] The French diet is based on natural saturated fats such as butter, cheese and cream that the human body finds easy to metabolize, because they are rich in shorter saturated fatty acids ranging from the 4-carbon butyric acid to the 16-carbon palmitic acid. But the American diet includes greater amounts saturated fats made via hydrogenating vegetable oils which include longer 18- and 20-carbon fatty acids. In addition, these hydrogenated fats include small quantities of trans fats which may have associated health risks.[26][27][28]

 

Is red wine good for your heart?

No, is the simple answer

The French paradox – in spite of high saturated fat intake, the French die less of coronary heart disease thanks to their higher consumption of red wine

The concept that drinking red wine can prevent cardiovascular disease dates back to the early nineties, when Serge Renaud and Michel de Lorgeril published a paper in the Lancet entitled,   ” Wine, alcohol, platelets and the French paradox for coronary heart disease”. They argued that whereas their consumption of saturated fat was high, mortality from coronary heart disease was low compared to the US and the UK. They called this the “French paradox” The difference was the French drink more red wine, there was some protective polyphenols that came straight from red grapes. The studies were based on data from three French cities, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Lille. CHD mortality was much lower in Toulouse compared to Strasbourg and Lille, however wine consumption was much higher in Toulouse compared to the other two cities.

In the 1990s, wine  sales in europe were declining, with many young people switching to beer, wine drinking was seen to be old-fashioned. The wine industry jumped on the “French paradox” story promoting an epic marketing campaign which instilled in a lot of people the idea that drinking red wine is good for your heart.

A great deal of research ensued and found, while there was some beneficial effects from the extracts from grapes, the amount of wine needed to get enough resveratrols to produce a significant effect would be incompatible with the toxic effects of alcohol.

The key to below the norm mortality rates from CHD in Toulouse, was not red wine but diet. While they drank more red wine and ate slightly more cheese, they ate a lot more vegetables, a lot more fruit, half the butter and more vegetable fat and more bread. In other words they were eating more fruit and vegetables and ingested more fibre, less saturated fat, more polyunsaturated fat and more grains.

The popular narrative of the French paradox gets the premise and the conclusion wrong. It is wrong to assume that saturated fat is all that matters to predict cardiovascular risk, since we know it is just one of the many dietary factors involved. And it is dead wrong to suggest that drinking a few glasses of red wine is all you need to make it better. If anything, the whole story proves once more the concept that the balance of diet in general is more important than any single component in preventing disease and ensuring good health.

http://www.nutrition.org. 01/18/2013; Stefano Vendrame