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HERE’S TO your health! After many years of supposition and more than a decade of investigation, the nutritional efficacy of red wine is even more certain. No less than Science, 8 March 2013, the magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, confirms the latest of this welcome news. I celebrate here with a summary, together with my own modest offering of red-wine Mediterranean goodness.
Investigation in 1999 suggested that extended life spans of yeast, worms and fruit flies were traceable to sirtium proteins. In 2003, it was announced that resveratrol, a natural compound in red wine, could activate SIRT1, a human enzyme of this sirtium family.
Alas, about the time corkscrews were spinning more heartily, spoilsport researchers cautioned that more study might be appropriate.
Well, reactivate the corkscrew because this latest research demonstrates that resveratrol does indeed promote SIRT1.
There are seven different human sirtiums, SIRT1 being one that targets many age-related diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Type 2 diabetes. SIRT1 production occurs naturally through calorie restriction as well as exercise.
However, there are those of us who are comfortable with red wine’s resveratrol being another fine activator, perhaps even a preferred one.
Synthetic activators of SIRT1 are already being developed. In one animal test, overweight mice given synthetic resveratrol were able to run twice as far as slim mice—and live 15 percent longer. Researchers see a potential for a new class of anti-ageing drugs within five years, all targeting SIRT1. See http://goo.gl/uwQJK for other details on this.
The Mediterranean diet has long been considered beneficial by nutritionists. Inspired by cuisines of southern Italy, Greece and Spain, it’s characterized by three things: proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, fruits, vegetables and unrefined cereals; moderate to high consumption of fish; moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt—and moderate consumption of wine.
As an indication of this combination’s efficacy, in 2010 UNESCO recognized this dietary pattern as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco. I suspect there’s a bit of UN politics here, as North Africa Muslims abjure alcohol of any kind.
Let’s raise a glass of (red) wine to the Mediterranean diet, while preparing my seafood stew, a variation on a cioppino theme, combined with Catalan influence, cooked in a wok.
[NOTE: I’ve just been shopping and what I thought was a 1-lb. can of tomatoes is actually 1 lb. 12 oz. (28 oz.). I’ve corrected the recipe below. It reminds me of the time a cooking magazine published an erratum: “For 4 cups sugar, read 1/4 cup sugar.”]
First, open a bottle of red wine and let it breathe for a few moments. While it’s breathing, briefly roast the hazelnuts; I use a toaster oven.
Second, pour yourself a glass of the wine and sample it.
Third, before too much sampling, chop the garlic, onion, celery, sweet pepper and hazelnuts coarsely. (“This #%&# knife is dull again.”) Set them aside.
In a clean wok (aren’t recipes nervy when they assume it might be otherwise?), heat the olive oil to moderate temperature. Sip the wine while the oil is heating. Then stir-fry the garlic, onion, celery and sweet pepper until limp (the vegetables, not you). It’s fine to have a few bits stick to the wok.
Pour in the red wine and stir to incorporate any crusty bits. Let the wine reduce by simmering while you open the can of tomatoes. (Diced, chopped or whole are okay; I use whole ones, then crush them here and there.)
Pour the tomatoes into the wok. Stir in a half-can of water and, if you like, break the tomatoes up a bit. Maybe add more water, depending on how thick a stew you prefer. Sip some wine while you think about this.
Mix in the chopped hazelnuts. Salt and pepper to taste. Add whatever spice you enjoy; my principal one is oregano. Bring it all up to a brief, gentle boil.
Sip the wine again while preparing the seafood. My wise choice of Trader Joe’s Seafood Blend means there’s little to do but tear open the bag and separate frozen pieces. In truth, any fish, shellfish, seafood or combination works just fine.
Add the seafood. Stir. Simmer until it has thawed and cooked—but not overcooked, perhaps 10 minutes or so. Sip wine in the interim.
Top with the chopped cilantro. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, Italian bread and red wine. Open another bottle.
Buona salute! ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanatisSays.com, 2013