Latest scientific news 19 November 2020

Moderate wine consumption in the context of the Med diet and chronic diseases

A recent literature review evaluated the effects of wine consumption in the context of a Mediterranean diet and different chronic (non-communicable) diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Most of the scientific evidence of the last five years agrees that light to moderate wine consumption appears to have beneficial effects.

Indeed, various studies have shown that following a healthy lifestyle such as eating a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish and low in red meat) including a moderate intake of wine, not smoking, being physical active and keeping a normal body weight can contribute to a longer life expectancy and to lower possibilities to contract the main chronic diseases. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied dietary patterns and it has been suggested as an effective approach to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It has been linked to an improved blood pressure, blood lipids, blood sugar metabolism and insulin resistance as well as a better control of the long-term body weight. In addition, a significant reduced CVD and all-cause mortality has been observed in individuals adhering highly to the Med diet.

And even though a moderate intake of wine with the meals has been rated as a positive item in the Med diet score, some studies have observed an association between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and the risk of developing certain types of cancer, regardless of the amount consumed. On the other hand, wine consumption in the context of a Med diet has shown positive effects against cancer risk. Is there a possible explanation?

Wine contains a large variety of bioactive compounds – polyphenols, red wine has a higher amount than white (*) – which can provide protective health effects. The main polyphenolic compounds in wine are resveratrol, anthocyanins, catechins and tannins.

The researchers described how these wine polyphenols as well as other bioactive compounds from the foods of the Med diet such as in olive oil, nuts, fruits and vegetables can contribute to the positive health effects through their synergistic mechanisms. They report positive effects on the blood pressure, blood lipids and cardiovascular disease, the development and management of type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia of moderate wine drinkers who consume a Med diet and rely on evidence from clinical as well as epidemiological studies from the last 5 years.

Possible mechanisms/biological activity include the (synergistic) antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective and anti-clotting properties of wine and the foods of the Med diet. For example, antioxidants protect against oxidative damage with their capacity to delete reactive oxygen molecules (free radicals) caused by exercise, food metabolism and environmental factors such as exposure to air pollutants. Such free radicals in the body are involved in the aging process as well as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

The authors conclude that most of the scientific literature agrees that light to moderate wine intake in the context of a Med Diet seems to have beneficial effects in chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, blood lipids, cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia.


Minzer, S., R. Estruch, and R. Casas, Wine Intake in the Framework of a Mediterranean Diet and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases: A Short Literature Review of the Last 5 Years. Molecules, 2020. 25(21).


(*) During the red wine making process, the contact with grape skins and seeds is longer and thus, red wines tend to have a higher polyphenol content.