Good News From the Land of Brandy-Wine

Urgent dispatches from the "brandy-wine" valley

Good news from the land of brandy-wine!

Well, not literally from that fabled, historic region of southeastern Pennsylvania where the revolutionary continental regulars fought a valiant (albeit losing) day-long campaign against the British redcoats in September of 1777, but rather from the realm of science - a landscape that more and more often in the last decade prominently features encouraging research about the benefits of alcohol. Most recently, these studies have focused on two of my favorites

Brandy and red wine.

Technically, both of these beverages are grape-based - which may in part explain the findings of a pair of recent studies, one Australian, and one European. According to the down-under research (appropriately released just before Christmas), a nightly shot of brandy packs an antioxidant punch equal to the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This is similar to a glass of red wine, which derives its antioxidant power in large part from the polyphenols in grape skins.

What's really interesting is that the research maintains the better quality the brandy, the greater the antioxidant benefit. Their theory is that the liquor leeches extra antioxidants from the copper in the stills during the distillation process - which tends to be longer for better quality brandy. Also interestingly, the study found similar benefits in shots of whiskey, which is made with no grapes (or any other fruits) at all, yet very definitely distilled in copper

Meanwhile, a separate study in Italy found that adding red wine to the daily diets of a group of non-drinking test subjects spurred a decrease in inflammatory bio-markers, and a boost in plasma antioxidant levels, which translated into lower LDL levels (something mainstream medicine believes is good for the heart), and a more desirable (again, by mainstream standards - not mine) LDL/HDL ratio. But no matter how you interpret the LDL/HDL ratio, increased blood antioxidants is a good thing for your ticker.

What's all this add up to? Something I've been telling everyone for years: Moderate daily alcohol consumption - be it wine, brandy, beer, whiskey, or whatever - is good for the heart, body, soul, blood and mind, for all kinds of medically relevant reasons!

But leave it to the mainstream press to find the cloud in the silver lining. Find out what I mean in the next Daily Dose

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LDLderly medicine

Remember above, when I was qualifying the red wine studies conclusions about what the mainstream calls "good" (HDL) and "bad" (LDL) cholesterol? You might be wondering why I did this. It's because the true role and value of cholesterol is misunderstood by most of the medical establishment. Case in point

A recent Italian research study of 3,120 subjects over 12 years concludes that for both men and women above age 65, the risk of fatal heart failure DECREASES as LDL cholesterol levels INCREASE.

Hmmm. I've only been saying this for 30 years or so.

Reported in the Journal of the American Geriatric Association, the study's findings argue against the use of lipid-lowering drugs (the world's most common patent medications) in the elderly of either sex.

My advice on this topic is the same as it's always been: Unless your cholesterol's OVER 300 or more, ignore it. And if it plummets to less than 200 - either naturally or from the use of those cursed statin drugs - you better start chowing down on some foods rich in animal fats and proteins if you want to dodge a heart attack

Especially if you're over 65.

Distilling the liquid truth from the lipid lies,

William Campbell Douglass II, MD