I’ll Drink to That

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.

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