Q: I'm a stroke survivor. Are there any risks or benefits to drinking wine associated with stroke recovery?—Victor S., Hempstead, N.Y.
A: According to a recent study on the impacts of diet on cognitive decline among stroke survivors, a low-salt Mediterranean-style diet that includes moderate alcohol consumption was shown to be even more beneficial for stroke survivors than it is for the general public.
Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago recruited 106 stroke survivors and assessed their adherence to three popular diets: the Mediterranean diet, high in fish, fruits and vegetables and olive oil, and including moderate wine consumption; the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which focuses on whole grains, fruits and vegetables and restricts foods high in saturated fats and sugar; and the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets that recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains, 6 servings of leafy green vegetables, and 2 servings of berries (but not necessarily other fruits) per week, encourages other vegetables, fish, chicken, beans, nuts and olive oil, and 1 glass of wine per day.
Of the diets investigated, the most positive results were shown by stroke survivors adhering to the MIND diet. In a previous study on older Chicago residents, the Rush Memory and Aging Project, participants who adhered most closely to the MIND diet were found to cognitively function as if they were 7.5 years younger than those least adherent to the diet; among the stroke survivors, the difference in improved function was closer to 20 years, reported study author Dr. Laurel Cherian.
While this is great news for everyone who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner, consult with your doctor to determine how best to incorporate wine and any other changes to your diet into a healthy lifestyle.