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Indian Cardiologist Validates Wine Benefits

Posted: Thursday, 14 July 2011 17:30

Indian Cardiologist Validates Wine Benefits

July 14: As if to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ‘French Paradox’ on the American television, a leading Indian Cardiologist based in Delhi has confirmed and validated what has been said for the last twenty years since a programme was telecast in 1990 in the US, that wine in moderation and Mediterranean diet keep the heart in good shape, writes Subhash Arora who has attended several conferences on the subject including the international Wine Summit in the US.

Padma Shree awardee, Dr H S Rissam, Director of Cardiology at Max Hospital Saket, Delhi said “Indians have a lot to learn from the Mediterranean diet, to improve their cardiovascular health. A moderate amount of wine with meals is very good to maintain a healthy heart”.

Speaking at a discussion on simple strategies to avoid heart attacks last Thursday, he said that a diet involving olive oil, soups, vegetables, fish, fruits and low calorie cheese had made heart attacks an extremely rare phenomenon in Mediterranean regions.

The number of heart attacks in India was four times that of those reported in the US and considerably more in numbers than other Asian countries like Japan, China and Taiwan, he said, adding that the mortality rates of heart patients in Western countries was three times more. Fine wine and a sumptuous Mediterranean meal are good to keep heart attacks at bay, he said.

‘Studies have shown that eating one bowl of beans for five years reduces cholesterol levels by 50 per cent,’ said Dr Rissam who is also a member of the board of governors of Medical Council of India.

It is not clear whether Dr. Rissam talked about the importance of fine wine or the report has misunderstood the remarks. The efficacy of red wine lies in resveratrol, the chemical with anti oxidants found mostly in red wines.

Winemakers do not necessarily consider the health benefits of tannins and extract all they possibly can out of grape skins; a relatively small portion is extracted. If at all, cheaper wines would have normally higher extraction to bring out the colour. Over-extraction of tannins maybe good for heart but it is counter- productive to get fine wines.  Unfiltered wines with grapes like Cabernet and Tannat have more tannins but due to increased level of astringency, it may not be the perfect choice of the winemaker. So, don’t run to buy the fine wine only for better health.

French Paradox

The French Paradox was first talked about in the American TV programme ‘60 Minutes’ in November 1990 and followed up later in 1991, when the French scientist Dr. Serge Renaud shared the platform with Dr. Curt Ellison of Boston University. Both agreed and disclosed that the French had a third of the heart problems as their US counterparts because of their Mediterranean diet and a regular but moderate intake of red wine.

There have been several studies conducted since that have evidenced similar results- up to 2 glasses a day of red wine are beneficial for the heart and diabetes, BP, dementia etc.

Renaud Society

An American Society of medical professionals with an interest in Better Health and a Passion for Wine has been formed in the USA to honour and named after Prof Serge Renaud who is considered the ‘Father’ of French Paradox .

James Halliday, the well known Wine Journalist and author from Australia says, "I have carried the flame for the medical benefits of wine with fervour. I have attended most of the conferences held in Australia over the years where the subject of wine and health was covered. I can say with a clear conscience that I wholeheartedly endorse the connection between wine drinking and better heart health and the Renaud Society."

Among other activities the Society sponsors Wine Summit every two years when the medical professionals, especially cardiologists across the world, mainly the US, UK and Australia congregate every two years to look at the latest studies relating to wine and heart health.

Wine Summit 2011

The 6th Wine Summit 2011 is being held in Newberg, Oregon from November 2-5. Sponsored by the Desert Heart Foundation and the Renaud Society, it will look at the various studies conducted during the 2 years when the Summit was held in Washington and hopefully there will be related observations to what the good doctor Dr. Rissam said on Thursday.

DelWine has published numerous articles on the subject of Heart health and wine. Indian Wine Academy also organized a seminar ‘After French Paradox’ at the French Embassy in Delhi several years ago. I have also attended several conferences on wine and health including the Wine Summit organised by the Renaud Society and sponsored by Desert Foundation.

The Renaud Society has also decided to induct me as International Commandeur, an honor thus far received by only 5 others, from the US, Australia, Denmark, France and the UK. The Renaud Society medal with the appropriate ribbon for this honour, will be also given to Dr. Curt Ellison during the Wine Summit-editor.


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