Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Alcohol: friend or foe?

It is no secret that Australians like to keep in high spirits. Of course, beer and wine are popular too.

Recently released statistics on drug use found the average Australian to have consumed 92 litres of beer, 20 litres of wine, and 1 litre of pure alcohol from spirits in 2004 alone. About 35 percent of drinkers were found to consume ‘risky’ levels of alcohol, the abuse of which has been blamed for more than a quarter of all deaths of 15 to 29 year-olds in developed countries.

According to biotechnologists from the University of Granada in Spain, however, melatonin found in red wine could delay the oxidative damage and inflammatory processes typical of old age. Though laboratory tests with mice, scientists speculate that daily melatonin intake in humans from the age of 30 or 40 could delay illnesses related to aging, thus promoting longevity.

While exploring ways to keep berries fresh during storage, researchers at the Kasetsart University in Thailand have discovered health benefits in treating the fruit with alcohol. Besides helping berries resist decay, alcohol was found to increase antioxidant capacity within strawberries, and could also increasing their ability to prevent diseases ranging from cancer to neurodegenerative disorders.

Strawberry daiquiri, anyone?

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