Posts Tagged ‘heart disease’

Meatless Monday

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

When I was a kid, we didn’t eat meat on Fridays. I came from a Catholic family, and like most Catholic families, meatless Fridays were a commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Christ, which according to scriptures occurred on a Friday. Not being all that impressed with the rituals of Catholicism, my brother and I held our noses and ate the standard end-of-the-week fare—fish cakes or fried flounder. But like millions of other kids we survived. In fact, we were probably healthier for having avoided still another evening meal of beef stew, hamburgers, or pot roast.

Now a new movement called Meatless Monday is gaining traction. The goal of the campaign, which is being promoted in association with Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, is to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent to improve personal health, reduce our carbon footprint, and conserve resources like fresh water and fossil fuel. Last month Ghent, Belgium became the first city in the western world to go meatless once a week, although they’re doing it on Thursdays instead of Mondays.

On the Meatless Monday website, you can find information on seasonal fruits and vegetables, including recipes, check on who’s going meatless, and take the Meatless Monday pledge yourself.

I’ll Drink to That

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Immacolata, my Italian grandmother, swore by marsala. When she’d work up a sweat digging in the garden, she’d come inside and take a swig of the wine, a traditional aperitif in southern Italy. When we’d get coughs, she’d boil down some red table wine with a dollup of honey and let us sip the resulting concoction. Don, my (non-Italian) husband, called the stuff “hocus pocus” until we convinced him to try it one night when he was hacking away with bronchitis. He slept like a baby.

These days science is providing some vindication for the Italian cure-all. First, researchers cracked the “French paradox” — why people who live on fois gras, cheese, and butter don’t die en masse from heart attacks. They drink red vin with all that fatty food, of course. Then came the news that red wine may lower prostate and lung cancer risk, and improve liver health. Now we learn that the polyphenols in red wine may also ward off Alzheimers by blocking the formation of proteins that build the toxic plaques believed to destroy brain cells.

Salut’, as Immacolata would say.

Polyphenols are found in high concentrations in tea, cocoa, nuts, berries, and other plant foods as well as wine.