Including red wine in the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of diabetes.
Wine is a drink that has traditionally been associated with both good and harmful effects on health. What determines whether the balance tilts towards one side or the other is daily consumption and the eating pattern that is followed.
"The greatest benefits are achieved when consumption is moderate and within a healthy dietary pattern, such as the Mediterranean diet," says Ramón Estruch, one of the heads of the Predimed research group at the Biomedical Research Centre in Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn).
What is considered moderate consumption?
Estruch indicates that, in the case of men, we would be talking about a maximum of three glasses of wine a day and one and a half glasses a day for women. This difference in recommendation is due to the fact that alcohol metabolism in the body is different for men and women.
"The latter have a lower concentration of an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, in the gastric wall compared to males, which implies greater ethanol absorption," he says. "Women also have a smaller alcohol distribution volume in the body and a slower hepatic alcohol metabolism."
Does it matter if it's white or red wine?
The expert indicates that there are studies that indicate that moderate wine consumption is responsible for 25% of the beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean diet. "The Mediterranean diet without wine is healthy, but by adding this beverage, a greater protective effect is obtained."
Among the main benefits of following this diet (which are increased by adding wine to the eating pattern) are:
Reducing the incidence of major cardiovascular complications by 30%, such as heart attack, death from cardiovascular events, or stroke.
There is a lower risk of diabetes, improves lipid profiles, and decreases blood pressure.
Reduces the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.
Reduces markers of oxidative stress, as well as inflammation biomarkers.
Regarding whether the benefits are the same if white or red wine is consumed, Estruch specifies that part of the benefits of moderate wine consumption is due to the alcohol it contains, but another part depends on the amount of non-alcoholic products, mainly polyphenols.
"These are bioactive compounds that plants synthesize to protect themselves from aggressions such as pests, drought, or sun exposure. When humans ingest these compounds, they acquire some of these properties and obtain a certain protection against many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases or cognitive decline," he explains. "Therefore, wine containing more polyphenols will have greater health effects, which is why red wine has a greater protective effect than white wine, due to its higher content of polyphenols," he concludes.