Benefits of the Mediterranean diet: how important is wine?

Lluis Serra-Majem1,2,3

1Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences (IUIBS), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain. 2Preventive Medicine Service, Centro Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno Infantil (CHUIMI), Canarian Health Service, Las Palmas, Spain 3CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERobn), Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), Madrid, Spain

The Mediterranean Diet, as named by Ancel Keys circa 1960, could be considered the most studied and well-known dietary pattern in the world (Medscape, Pubmed impact). The first references to its health properties were focused on the protective effect on the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Later on, some nutrient or food components or the diet pattern per se were associated to several pathologies, including certain types of cancer, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline and mental health, respiratory diseases, bone diseases such as osteoarthritis, and quality of life or healthy aging, among others. The study of the mechanisms that explain such associtations have come to the plausible conclusion that it is the combination of foods, nutrients in the food, non nutritive substances, coocking techniques and lifestyle habits that interact in such a way that convert the MD pattern into a preventative tool and also a treatment to be applied to such medical conditions. Besides, since the aknoledgement of the MD as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, the MD pattern is also recognized as a cultural model that is deeply rooted into its geographical origin and who’s agricultural and dietary practices have a responsable interaction with the environment.

Probably, the origin of wine dates back from the Neolithic, although the Egiptians and Greeks were the cultures who made the drink popular by developing the elaboration and conservation techniques. The Romans spread their cultivation in Italy and other countries and the wine became a staple. Independently of its health properties, the MD is strongly associated to the consumption of moderate quantities of wine during meals in the European Mediterranean countries. Updated benefits of wine consumption in relation to this dietary pattern will be presented.