Resveratrol has been found to add life to years, if not years to life, according to a new study published in Cell Metabolism earlier this month.

For the benefit of my Health Populi readers, I just had to investigate this story first-hand, and first-taste, at the winery where bottles of Pinot Noir have been found to achieve the highest levels of resveratrol. That’s at the vinifera wine cellars of Dr. Konstantin Frank in Hammondsport, NY.

While vacationing in the Finger Lakes region of New York state, I had the experience of pleasure morphing to work at this winery, which has a remarkable history. The founder, Dr. Frank (shown at left), was born in the Ukraine and became a successful viticulturist in Odessa. After World War II, the USSR exerted greater dominance over the Ukraine, and Dr. Frank, with German ancestry, emigrated to the U.S. After many years of trying to enter the wine industry, he aligned himself with Charles Fournier, a French winemaker in the Finger Lakes, with whom the Dr. found a kindred spirit. The rest, as it is said, is winemaking history.

Dr. Frank’s Fleur de Pinot Noir has been found to have the greatest levels of resveratrol — a substance found in the skin of red grapes and in red wine. The NIH-funded study published in Cell Metabolism found that resveratrol prevented age-related and obesity-related cardiovascular functional decline in mice. Some of the benefits included:

  • Total cholesterol significantly reduced
  • Better functioning aortas, and a moderating of inflammation in the heart
  • Improved bone health as measured by thickness, volume, mineral content and density, and bending stiffness compared to the non-treated control group
  • Reduced cataract formation
  • Enhanced balance and motor coordination in aged animals.
The bottom line: quality of life in aging improves, but there is no evidence that resveratrol adds years to life. Still, enhancing quality of life is indeed a great thing.

And the Finger Lakes area knows a lot about quality of life. I found on my short journey in the Finger Lakes a real commitment to local food, organics, and living the artful life.

One example of this found in Naples, NY, the home of Mountain Rise Organics. I’m lucky enough to have a Wegmans store in my community in suburban Philadelphia. Wegmans, a family-owned grocery chain based in New York state, takes pride in finding breakthrough brands and promoting them in their stores, along with stocking local produce whenever and wherever they can. Mountain Rise began 15 years ago when Marcia and Glenn Litwiller bought a six-acre farm in the Finger Lakes and started an organic food business. Their core product is granola, made from Marcia’s original recipe. After years of hard work, Mountain Rise was featured on the Food Network in 2005, and since then, the company has grown by leaps and bounds. They are in over 150 stores, including Wegmans branches. This is an example of great people making a great product deserving great success.

Local food and wine is also the mission of the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, NY, where my husband and I took a wonderful cooking class called the Taste of New York. We used as many local ingredients in the New York-flavored recipes as could be found: Empire apples, fresh herbs, poultry, goat cheese, vegetables. The mission of the Center is to promote the State’s cornucopia of foodstuffs and the benefits of cooking and eating local. This is the message of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food; I wrote about this locavore movement and Slow Food here in Health Populi. Eating local is good for the local economy and can be better for health.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
Taking a vacation is good for your health, too, and I know it’s been good for mine: mentally, physically, emotionally. One of the major contributors to this sense of well-being is my sense of place at the Chalet of Canandaigua. This oasis in the Finger Lakes is a magnificent log and wood structure nestled on acres of woodland and features a pond that mirrors the majestic hundred-year-old trees that grace its periphery. The Chalet’s 360-degree customer exper

ience begins from the moment one enters the property: geese greet you in the driveway, and twelve-year-old Missy joins you at your feet at breakfast when you are served a three-course homage to locavore pleasures. The three guest rooms at the Chalet provide the highest level of comfort including fireplaces, lush towels, and luxurious bedding. This all adds quality of life to any year.

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