[Greenseedling is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a week of St. Paddy's Day-themed stories. Beer, Four-Leaf Clovers, Potatoes....A perfect holiday for the plant enthusiast!]
While we are still a few days away from Saint Patrick’s Day, tonight my family and I are sitting down to a hearty meal of corned beef and cabbage to celebrate the occasion, and if I have my way at all, we will all have a nice pint of Guinness in front of us to round out the meal. My true motive here could be something less than respectable (it is St. Patty’s Day after all), but the argument I’ll make comes straight from that old Guinness ad campaign—“Guinness is Good For You!”
And this is no half-truth. Studies within the past decade have shown that consuming alcoholic beverages in moderation—especially dark beer or red wine—reduces the occurrence of coronary artery disease due to the presence of polyphenolic compounds that are found in many alcoholic beverages. These compounds contribute to certain biologic factors that help to slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Polyphenols improve the function of the endothelium (a group of cells comprising the inner lining of our blood vessels), which benefits our vascular health by inhibiting platelet activity and vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration, two conditions known to contribute to atherosclerotic development.
But don’t think that any drink from your local Irish pub will get you this kind of bang for your buck. As mentioned above, dark-colored beers and red wine seem to provide most vascular protection as compared to white wine and liquor. While the alcohol content per serving is roughly equivalent among the various drinks, the findings suggest that alcohol itself is not what accounts for all of the health benefits, but rather it is the polyphenols found within only certain types of alcoholic drinks.
And yes, if you were wondering, the volume consumed does make a difference, too (perhaps unfortunately for some). The research suggests that the beneficial effects are most pronounced when consumption of alcoholic beverages is done in moderation. To put that in numbers, researchers from the University of Wisconsin suggested that 24 fluid ounces of Guinness—a pint and a half—at mealtimes is the most beneficial.
So this Saint Patrick’s Day, don’t feel bad if you throw back one or two in recognition of this old Irish holiday, for a pint a day will keep the heart trouble away. But remember, the key is in moderation. As for me, I most definitely plan on a pint (and a half!) of Guinness with my traditional Irish dinner tonight. As the saying goes, drink to your health!
Discussion Question: A “full Irish breakfast” consists of several courses including a starter of fruit, followed by cereal, a main course of fried eggs and bacon, tea with milk, and toast. We know Guinness is good for you, but what parts of this other Irish staple might help (or hurt) our health from what you can find on the Greenseedling website?
News Article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3266819.stm
Research Article: http://www.pathophysiologyjournal.com/article/S0928-4680(03)00052-X/abstract
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