Q: Can wine be part of the DASH diet?—Sherrie R., Winter Park, Fla.
A: The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet puts an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products and also prescribes limiting consumption of saturated and total fat. Unlike the Mediterranean diet, which is closely associated with moderate wine consumption, the DASH diet neither prescribes nor prohibits alcohol.
A study into how alcohol consumption impacted adherents of the DASH diet conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs yielded mixed results. They found that study participants who increased their alcohol intake also increased their rate of unhealthy eating. However, they found that fat consumption, which is a primary concern for DASH dieters, decreased among moderate drinkers. Participants who increased their alcohol consumption to 1 drink per day decreased their fat intake by 2,140 mg per day, and those who consumed 1 to 2 drinks a day decreased fat intake by 3,240 mg.
Another study, published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports in 2003, found that among more than 450 participants on the DASH diet, moderate drinkers (2 drinks or less daily) who had been diagnosed with stage 1 hypertension (130-139 mm Hg systolic, 80-89 mm Hg diastolic) exhibited an average reduction in blood pressure of 11.4/5.5 mm Hg.
As always, consult your physician to help you determine how to implement any new diet and how to incorporate wine into a healthy lifestyle.