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“Shaken, not stirred”: James Bond’s Martini is healthier

Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages has been associated with a decreased risk of several age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke and cataract. This effect has been tentatively ascribed to the antioxidant activities of alcohol, flavonoids or polyphenols in the beverages, since it has been established that the antioxidant vitamin E reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cataract development.

Science at Martini’s service

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario in Canada conducted a study to determine if the preparation of a Martini has an influence on their antioxidant capacity. The study, published in the British Medical Journal on December 18th 1999, found that the shaken gin Martini was able to break down hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and leave only 0.072% of the peroxide behind, whilst the stirred gin Martini was leaving behind 0.157% of the peroxide. Thus a shaken Martini has more antioxidants than a stirred one. Both shaken and stirred versions of gin Martini were more effective than gin or vermouth alone (0.072% of peroxide control for shaken Martini, 0.157% for stirred vs. 58.3% for gin and 1.90% for vermouth).

The reason for this is not clear, but it may well not involve the easy oxidation of reactive Martini components: control Martini through which either oxygen or nitrogen was bubbled did not differ in their ability to deactivate hydrogen peroxide (0.061% vs. 0.057%) and did not differ from the shaken Martini. Moreover, preliminary experiments indicate that Martini wine is less well endowed with polyphenols than Sauvignon Blanc or Scotch whisky (0.056 mmol/l [catechin equivalent] shaken, 0.060 mmol/l stirred vs. 0.592 mmol/l wine, 0.575 mmol/l whisky).

Where is the money coming from?

In the footnotes of the study, you can read that

(….) all staff on the project were summer students supported by Work Study, Canada Manpower, Youth Opportunities Unlimited Ontario, and by grants from Labatt Breweries (….). Corby Distilleries provided samples of gin and vermouth.

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For more details, see Wikipedia.

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