The year has just begun and already the best diet of the year has been named the Mediterranean diet. With health benefits ranging from helping you lose weight to living longer, reducing the risk of heart disease, and boosting brain health, it's no wonder this popular eating plan is getting all the praise.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional diet of Mediterranean countries and is mostly plant-based with lots of non-starchy veggies, fruit, healthy fats (mostly from olives and olive oil), nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and fish. Red meat is eaten sparingly, and sugars and refined, starchy foods are generally off limits.
But that doesn't mean you can't indulge on this popular eating plan. In fact, one staple of the Mediterranean diet is something that's not only good for your heart but could also help you wind down and reduce stress: wine. Specifically, red wine.
"Trying to mimic what people drink on the Mediterranean, red wine is a more popular choice," registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, told POPSUGAR, noting that red wine offers more heart-health benefits thanks to its concentration of the antioxidant resveratrol. She recommends no more than one five-ounce glass of red wine a day for women and two for men, although she said you can drink it every day.
"One component of the Mediterranean diet is that it encourages eating meals with others, and I interpret this as including wine as well," Lauren said, adding that if you are going to drink on this diet, do so with friends or family, rather than drinking alone.
However, just because you are following the Mediterranean diet doesn't mean you have to imbibe. Too much alcohol is inflammatory and may cause you to gain weight and make less healthy choices. It also depends on your goals, Lauren said; if you are a woman trying to get pregnant, she doesn't recommend drinking any wine.
Registered dietitian and chef Julie Andrews, MS, agrees. She told POPSUGAR that while many health professionals warn against drinking alcohol since excessive alcohol can have negative health effects, drinking alcohol (especially red wine) in moderation can be beneficial.
"In general, I say if you love wine and have a healthy relationship with drinking alcohol, [as in] no personal or family history [of alcohol abuse], then go for that five ounces a day," she told POPSUGAR. "It may help support overall health, but it certainly is just a tiny part of a giant overall picture of what a healthy diet looks like. Be sure to consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, heart-healthy fats, lean meats, and omega-rich seafood."