Sláinte, March 2011

Yank a leaf off your clovers, grab a Guinness and be the Celt you were meant to be.

Place the four leaf “shamrock” slowly on the floor then put those hands up where Sláinte can see them! It’s the holiday police. Now take one of those hands and smack yourself

upside the head. Hard. See that green beer you ordered? Pour it over your head. Now that you are wet, green and have a headache maybe you will listen to Sláinte. Seriously, did you think festooning yourself with American symbols of good luck is the proper way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Lucky American clovers have 4 leaves but St. Patrick used the 3 leaves of the Irish shamrock to teach our ancestors about the Trinity. So yank a leaf off your clovers, stand tall and be the Celt you were meant to be.

A real Celt drinks Guinness, not one of those wimpy light beers, and certainly not any kind of green beer. He knows a properly poured pint is not just a drink but an experience. Like the ad says “Guinness is good for you” and a group of Wisconsin researchers proved it.

The scientists took dogs with narrowed arteries (which made them similar to people with heart disease) and gave some of the dogs two bottles of Heineken’s (24 ounces) and two glasses (24 ounces) of Guinness. If a blood clot gets stuck in a narrowed artery, it can cause a heart attack or stroke which is why the condition is so dangerous. Luckily for the dogs fed Guinness they had reduced blood clotting but there was no such benefit for the dogs who drank the Heineken’s. Nevertheless, it must have been a happy day at the kennel! Wonder if they put on some Chieftains and tried to teach the dogs a set too?

A single serving of alcohol is generally defined as 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol which equals twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. For a man moderate drinking is considered to be no more than two servings a day and for a woman one serving. So a woman who drinks moderately would have a glass of wine each night at dinner, red wine being another beverage that is full of antioxidants. A man who drinks moderately might have two beers in the evening with friends or, better yet, a pint of Guinness. Keep in mind this is the amount of alcohol per day. Please don’t try saving up all your servings for the weekend and going on a binge. That is a quick way to destroy your health because your body cannot process all that alcohol at once and it quickly becomes toxic. Your body is trying to tell you something when you have a hangover and what it’s trying to say is don’t celebrate the feast day of the saint who represents us by getting drunk. Real Celts savor their pint not scarf it.

Like a good cup of Irish tea or a square of dark chocolate, Guinness contains chemicals called flavonoids that are believed responsible for its health benefits. Flavonoids act as antioxidants, molecules that protect the body from a wide range of chronic disorders. The alcohol itself has benefits too. According to a recent US study, moderate drinking helps to protect you from developing dementia. Of course, the less you weigh and the older you get the less alcohol your body can tolerate so seniors beware. However, we also have a lower threshold of alcohol needed for a positive benefit .

While moderate drinking has health benefits you have to watch out for the calories. Two bottles of beer will put about 340 calories on you. Ten days of drinking 2 beers is 3400 calories, about equal to the amount of calories it takes to put on 1 pound. One pound every ten days equals 36 pounds a year. No wonder they call the large gut so many middle age men develop a beer belly.

At 198 calories a pint, Guinness is practically a diet drink. Just remember, if you have a pint after work each day, you must cut back on the calories in some other way. The ladies, of course, only get to have an 12 ounce glass of Guinness but that has a scant 150 calories.

Whatever your choice of beverage this St Patrick’s Day, drink responsibly. Wear your shamrocks proudly and save the four leaf clovers for the fourth of July. Sláinte!

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