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The Wine Guy: Be mindful of celebration with moderation

Best of The Wine Guy

The Wine Guy
with Anthony Scarano

As you sat down to dinner this Thanksgiving you likely had before you a spread of many foods. Cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, rice, olives, pickles — those are just some of the dishes people associate with the feast, and every family has its own traditional trimmings. For the main dish it was probably turkey, but could have bee ham or some other meat, and sausages related to your family’s ethnic background are also often served. And don’t forget the stuffing.

With this great bounty comes from many of the dishes a great deal of fat. Gravy, buttered potatoes, stuffing and sausages are all loaded with it; and, while there is room for occasional overindulgence — and celebrating the holidays is certainly that — keep in mind you can’t eat like this all the time and stay healthy, or even alive, for that matter.

The main elements in fats carbon, hydrogen and oxygen — the former being the primary component of all organisms. The combinations of these three elements are called hydrocarbons, and they must be consumed sparingly. Fats and oils are very rich and are not easily digested, and they go through many processes to be broken down and used by the body. Too much fat will congest the liver and gall bladder, and can clog the digestive system, slowing down the elimination of wastes. A constipated digestive tract produces body odor and bad breath, and can contribute to the proliferation of harmful bacteria and even parasites.

A slightly-built person may think drinking a bottle of pure cream will result in fatness, but one who tries this will find him self in grave danger with a badly enlarged and congested liver. Fats produce heat and energy when oxidized. A certain amount of fat is normally stored in the body to conserve heat, protect and lubricate vital organs, and give the body contour — as a carpenter might say, “to kind of round the corners.” But if one’s digestion and assimilation is fairly normal he does not necessarily have to eat fatty foods to gain weight. Other foods can be converted to fat and stored in the body.

Aside from meats and dairy products, other foods high in fats — and remember, most of these fats are necessary and healthy in the right amounts — include peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazel nuts, Brazil nuts and all nut butters, avocados, coconut and coconut oil, mayonnaise, eggs, olive oil and sesame oil.

These food are also high in proteins, a vital food that helps furnish the body with the material necessary to build and replace cells and tissues, but which should nonetheless be eaten in moderation. Proteins are made of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, with some containing sulfur, phosphorous and trace amounts of other elements. Protein digestion liberates potentially poisonous acids and alkaloids, and when these toxins accumulate in large quantities they endanger health by causing diseases such as rheumatism, gout, arteriosclerosis, heart disease and high blood pressure. They can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Five to seven ounces of protein a day is sufficient for most people, although athletes and physical laborers do need more to keep the body in good repair.

I hope you enjoyed your family and your feast on Thanksgiving. Here is to celebration with moderation, always being mindful of discipline and restraint. Have some wine this weekend and prepare yourself for the holiday season that is upon us.

Anthony Scarano is not a doctor. He is an 88-year-old Evergreen Park resident, winemaker and certified naturopath. Suggestions in this space are solely the opinions of Mr. Scarano based on years of independent study and personal experience, and may not be beneficial to health. Wine should be consumed in moderation, as overindulgence may be harmful to health.