Health news: The days of wine and rosemary


By now, anyone not living in a cave has heard some of the health benefits of moderate wine consumption, so let’s start with the rosemary. I’ve said in the past that it’s my favorite herb. Whether making Tuscan beans, a simple, but stunning French dessert with rosemary and apricots or this week’s rosemary sage chops, rosemary imparts an unmistakable fragrance and flavor, a mix of lemon and pine.

Turns out it also imparts good stuff for your brain. According to a recent article in ScienceDaily, the carnosic acid in rosemary protects the brain from the free radicals that contribute to strokes, neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and the ill effects of normal aging on the brain.

If you drink to forget, you may be out of luck. A new study by the University of Auckland and Ohio State University, published in the September issue of the Journal of Neuroscience and reported in Wine Spectator, suggests that moderate consumption of alcohol may improve memory. That’s actually any alcohol, not just red wine—but red wine has so many other health benefits going for it [see below], why not stick with it?

The research, conducted on rats, found that “rats that drank alcohol in moderation seemed to have superior cognitive skills when compared to non-drinking and heavy-drinking rats, in ways that may occur similarly in humans.” My question is how they determined the rats’ drinking habits prior to the study. Questionnaire? Or perhaps observation, hanging out with rats in little rat bars?

“Does this leftover turkey smell okay?” “Better have some red wine.” Okay, so this isn’t so much about the brain, but if you’ve ever had food poisoning, you’ll never forget it, no matter how good, bad or indifferent your memory is. Red wine to the rescue. According to research by the University of Missouri and noted in Wine Spectator, some red wines help kill food-borne pathogens. [Editor’s note: I obviously went to the wrong school—all our alcohol research was strictly independent study.]

Specifically, the study says that Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz make for potent bacteria killers. The drier the wines and the higher their acidity, the better they worked. Further, they “did not affect non-harmful and helpful strains, such as those that aid digestion, called probiotic bacteria.”

So far, they’ve only tested red wine’s bacteria-slaying abilities in the lab and don’t know “if the positive effects from the lab would be realized in humans by drinking red wine.” Probably had trouble finding student volunteers.

3 Responses to “Health news: The days of wine and rosemary”

  1. Christina Says:

    Oh, I really enjoyed reading this! It’s funny and informative and a perfect illustration of your clever style.

  2. Terry B Says:

    Christina—Wow. Thank you. I’m always impressed by your writing, so this is praise indeed.

  3. Wait. Wine fights lung cancer too? « WTF? Random food for thought. Says:

    […] wine consumption can fight heart disease. And if you’re a regular WTF reader, you know it can actually improve memory. Well, now the November issue of Cancer Epidemiological Markers & Prevention reports that […]

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