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The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days Excerpt from The Sonoma Diet: Trimmer Waist, Better Health in Just 10 Days

by Dr. Connie Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D.

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Grapes: Fruit of the Gods

The Greeks and Romans considered grapes a gift from the gods. And why not? Theres something miraculous about a gnarly black vine creating generous clusters of bright pearls of fruit, each bursting with pure goodness.

These ancient southern Europeans appreciated the health-imparting power of grapes themselves. But they positively worshiped the fruits capacity to convert itself into that most sensuous of nectars -- fine wine.

The Greeks and Romans bequeathed their love of grapes and wine to their modern southern European successors, who turned both into cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet.

Grapes are equally revered in todays Sonoma. There the hillsides are covered with vineyards, their ripening fruit gleaming green and purple in the pre-harvest sun. The Sonoma Diet is indebted to this important part of the Sonoma economy.

Heart Protection
Whats wonderful about grapes as a power food is that they deliver virtually all of the nutrients that wine does. That means youll still reap most of the heart-protective and weight-loss benefits of grapes abundant phytonutrients even if you cannot (or choose not to) drink a daily glass of wine.

Grapes and wine are a big reason modern researchers got curious about the Mediterranean diet in the first place. Why, they asked, did southern Europeans suffer so few heart attacks even as they ate so richly? A big reason, we know now, is the special potency of the heart-protective nutrients in the grapes and wine they consume so liberally.

The phytonutrients in grapes work to keep your entire cardiovascular system healthy in the usual way. That is, they protect the blood vessels and heart muscle itself from tissue damage by free radicals and the rusting they can cause.

It would take an organic chemistry textbook to describe the myriad flavonoids that make grapes such a heart-healthy food. But youve already met the most important one -- resveratrol, the same wonder nutrient that powers blueberries.

While theres actually more resveratrol in blueberries than grapes, the supporting cast in grapes is unbeatable. Because the flavonoids and other antioxidant nutrients work together like a philharmonic orchestra, grapes have achieved elite power-food status.

Whole Food Benefits
They also make a great argument for the whole-foods approach to weight loss. Studies abound confirming the heart-protecting benefits of eating grapes and drinking wine. But the evidence for resveratrol acting alone in supplement form is much skimpier.

Red or purple grapes are richer in flavonoids than the white or green varieties, but were not going to hold you to that. Grapes of any color are power foods, period.

You wont, however, be able to eat grapes without limits until you reach your weight goal. Their high sugar content puts them on the Tier 2 list, meaning you can enjoy cup of grapes a day starting with Wave 2.

Youll probably want to alternate them with other Tier 2 fruits, but give them priority. Grapes are the very symbol of Sonomas healthy way of life.

Copyright 2006 Dr. Connie Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D.