Q: Can the Mediterranean diet, including wine, be good for sufferers of chronic kidney disease?—Theodore, New York
A: High blood pressure can lead to kidney damage, and the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and, yes, moderate wine consumption, has been linked with improved blood pressure. "In the early stages [of chronic kidney disease], a Mediterranean diet is super fantastic because it has all that potassium," University of Chicago Medical Center chronic kidney disease nutrition and education specialist Melanie Betz told Wine Spectator, "but when the disease is a little bit more advanced (stage 4 or 5), you might not be able to handle that potassium load."
Betz emphasizes that high blood pressure is damaging to kidneys, so what's healthy for the heart is good for the kidneys as well. The Mediterranean diet's allowance for moderate wine consumption (one glass a day for women; two for men) could contribute to lowering blood pressure and improving kidney health, however, she says, it cannot reverse kidney disease. Consult your physician before including wine as part of a healthy diet.