Three French hens! Well, historically this one refers to Faith, Hope and love which is really what Christmas is all about. A baby was born to give us hope for the future and to demonstrate God’s love for us. One of the ways we celebrate on Christmas Day is with a glass of wine and that brings me to the topic of today’s post....wine! Three French hens?! I know..... you thought I was going to talk about chicken, but wine it is. I hope you’re not disappointed! The country of France (there is a connection after all!) throughout the world is synonymous with wine but is it good for us? Which one should we buy? How do we deal with/prevent a hangover? Is it true that drinking a lot can make us wakeful through the night? What about allergies to wines?
Good news! Wine is potentially good for us...but it does depend which one and how much we drink.
Red wine is the one to go for because of the high amounts of the antioxidant known as resveratrol. Just one glass is loaded with around 75 grapes so you can see why this would be a super healthy drink. ‘So, it’s a kind of smoothie?’ I hear you say...yeah right! But I don’t think you’d get through your morning with quite the energy surge you were looking for with this one for breakfast! Of course, resveratrol is also found in grape skin, blueberries and raspberries, so feel free to add these beauties into your morning smoothie for the same benefits. Now, you’ve probably heard it said that red wine is good for your heart health. So what are the benefits?
· Resveratrol is good for your reducing inflammation in the body
· Lowers LDL (bad cholesterol)
· Fights free radical damage through antioxidant protection.
Drum roll......Red wine can help fight obesity!! Really?! Who says Christmas doesn’t come early?! Well, research at Purdue University which is a major research University in the USA has found that a compound found in grapes called Piceatannol can actually block the ability of immature fat cells to grow. Hurrah!
HOWEVER: all of the above health benefits are only benefits if you drink red wine now and again. It has to be remembered that alcohol is a neurotoxin which can impact the brain and the liver. Indeed, Andrew Langford CMO of the British Liver Trust, has pointed out that the majority of people who die of liver disease drink little and often! These are the people who have 1 or 2 drinks a night which according to some guidelines is ‘ok’. BUT, it is known that the liver needs time to rest and recover so perhaps 1 or 2 drinks twice a week is more like it to support your liver and maintain liver health. That said, a study at the University of Florida college of Medicine has suggested that the polyphenols in red wine actually protect the liver from alcoholic fatty liver disease. So....you decide!
A true allergy to wine, which would involve an immediate response, is rare. But many are intolerant, which could be related in particular to the presence of Histamine or Sulphites. Histamine is present in many alcoholic drinks, especially red wine and can lead to headaches, flushing and can trigger asthma. It is thought that some people are unable to breakdown and eliminate histamine. Sulphites are common in wines and home brewed beers. They can lead to wheezing in 1 in 10 asthmatics and others have reported problems with them and can experience symptoms similar to hayfever. The shelves in our supermarkets are filled with mass produced cheap poor quality wines and the poorer the quality the higher the amount of sulphites and other chemicals. There are a number of specific sulphite free wines for example the Sainsbury’s Organic range http://wine90.com/organic/sainsburys-so-organic-wine-range
So, the long and the short of it is, there are benefits to wine as long as we don’t drink too much, too often and you make a conscious decision to choose quality wines minus all the unnecessary chemicals that certainly DO NOT benefit our bodies!
If you find you are prone to waking in the night after drinking alcohol, this is often due to a dip in blood sugar. To prevent these hypoglycaemic attacks, avoid sugar filled mixers like fruit juices and fizzy stuff which make matters worse and make sure you eat with your chosen beverage. Ensure you snack on good quality protein and fats like nuts which are usually around the Christmas table and oatcakes with almond butter, hummus or a wee slice of turkey before bed should help maintain blood sugar and keep you going through the night.
And finally.... if you do have one too many, how about this really great list of tips to bring you out of your misery a little sooner.....
Well, I hope you find some Christmas cheer in your top quality wines this season and definitely get some of that piceatannol in your Christmas stockings!!
Two turtle doves......Interestingly the true meaning of these words has a biblical significance referring to the Old and New Testament. Most of us are familiar with the idea of the dove as a symbol of peace and love. In fact, throughout the world, doves are recognised as birds of love, peace, fidelity and honesty. It’s easy during the season of advent to get so caught up in the activities of Christmas, with parties, decorating, cooking, shopping, tidying our homes for visitors coming etc. etc. that we forget to take time to enjoy all the good things about this season.
Sadly, Christmas for many has become associated with the word stress! The word peace has taken a back seat in the proceedings and has been replaced with words like ‘panic’, ‘not enough time’ ‘too much to do’, ‘how can we afford that?’ ‘I thought you’d bought the sellotape?!’ Is this really what Christmas is about? Then there’s the dreaded trip to the city centre shops...you know that unless you leave the house at the crack of dawn, you are not going to get a space in the car park and are going to have to sit in a queue to wait for one! Then when you finally get to the shops, there’s another queue for a simple (but life saving at this point!) cup of coffee at EVERY coffee shop in town and then to top it all the gift you were looking forward to buying with every inch of your heart and soul is out of stock!!!
Ok....breathe....I know, that even just thinking about all of that is raising your blood pressure! So, that brings me to my tips for today. Well, it’s more about finding peace in a potentially stressful and busy period. Now, if you are one of those people who just got an irresistible urge to punch me for even suggesting such a thing, you may need to have a camomile tea (or something stronger!) and read on ...
A partridge in a pear tree! Or maybe some poached pears?! Poached pears are a wonderful and simple Christmas desert on so many levels. Firstly, if you're looking for something quick to throw together with limited preparation time, then these are perfect!
Pears are in season from September through to January which means that we can take advantage of good prices for Organic pears (currently £2.50 for 4 in Tesco). But the great thing about pears is that they provide lots of health benefits.......
Well, there are lots of variations with poached pears and you could always poach in red wine with some cloves, star anise and cinnamon. However, I'm going to suggest a simple recipe that all the family can enjoy which is alcohol free but not taste free!
By the way, did you know that research has shown that cinnamon can reduce blood sugar? Talk about a guilt free desert!! This is truly a Christmas treat and a change from the stodgier puds we know and love. Bon appetit!!
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