Latest scientific news 19 November 2021

What is the role of wine and wine polyphenols within the Mediterranean Diet?

A Mediterranean dietary pattern has been associated with beneficial health outcomes in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (CVD), type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline or cancers. Its benefits were recognized by the UNESCO, which declared the Med diet in 2010 as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

What has been related to its health benefits are antioxidants, especially polyphenols. The intake of these compounds is associated with beneficial effects on the blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, inflammatory processes in the body and adiposity.

A moderate wine consumption, especially red wine, has been shown to provide some degree of protection against CVD, diabetes mellitus type 2 and cognitive decline, which has been related to its polyphenol content. However, this is based on evidence from observational studies and there is a lack of randomized clinical trials, which can prove a causal relationship.

It should be also noted that, wine contains alcohol which can increase the risk of liver disorders and several types of cancer. Nevertheless, the Mediterranean pattern of drinking wine with the meals may delay ethanol absorption and favour its more rapid clearance and, at the same time, it may contribute to a decrease in postprandial oxidative stress produced after a meal. The polyphenols present in wine are also found in fruits and vegetables which lack the risks associated with alcohol, however, the presence of alcohol in the food might make wine polyphenols more bioavailable.

Certainly, wine (or any other alcoholic drink, for that matter) should not only be presented as having health benefits. The risks of alcohol should always be taken into account. Communicating messages that might induce people to drink in the hope of improving their health could likely have more harmful than beneficial consequences.

It is not easy to give a simple answer to the question of whether wine should be considered a key food contributing to the beneficial health outcomes in the Med diet but it definitely constitutes a distinguishing feature of many Mediterranean cultures. In those regions, wine can be a relevant contributor to the polyphenol intake and could be considered a side element in the beneficial health effect of the Med diet, provided it is consumed the Mediterranean way which is light to moderate regular consumption with meals.

The authors consider wine as a fruitive food, which is to be enjoyed responsibly and in moderation, in a convivial environment and in the context of an adequate diet and lifestyle. This way, it may constitute another element of a healthy lifestyle provided there are no reasons to advise against their intake.

Source: Santos-Buelga C, González-Manzano S, González-Paramás AM. Wine, PolyphenolsPolyphenols are mainly phytochemicals found abundantly in natural plant food sources. The most impor..., and Mediterranean Diets. What Else Is There to Say? Molecules. 2021 Sep 12;26(18):5537. doi: 10.3390/molecules26185537. PMID: 34577008; PMCID: PMC8468969.

For more information about this abstract, click here.