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The role of the Mediterranean diet (and wine) in health and prevent

The scientific point of view (and Minister Lollobrigida’s) in relation to food, wine, nutrition and the heart
Wine at the table

On one side, we have Nutriscore and health warnings on labels that risk penalizing the symbolic products of the Mediterranean diet (the healthiest one), which also includes wine. On the other, the green light for insects at the table. One side discourages the consumption of wine and red meat, while the other, instead, opens up to synthetic meat and alcohol-free wine. It is becoming more and more evident that our food model will be overturned by European legislation, which is ever more concerned about health issues and cold numbers on consumers' plates, but not common sense. However, at the “First National Day of Food, Nutrition and the Heart”, dedicated to a healthy, varied and balanced diet in relation to prevention of cardiovascular diseases, organized by Professor Carlo Gaudio, president of CREA, council for agricultural research and economy analysis, and Professor Pasquale Perrone Filardi, president of Cardiology, the benefits of proper nutrition, in terms of health and prevention, were clearly stated and demonstrated. Moreover, in this context, the Mediterranean Diet, where wine is a pillar, is the food style that more than any other produces significant health benefits, as confirmed by the longevity of the Italian people. “The Mediterranean Diet contains food and drink, including a moderate consumption of alcohol, the value of which has been certified by the most important international scientific communities. As early as 2021, the European Society of Cardiology, in its prevention guidelines, strongly recommended the Mediterranean Diet, acknowledged as the only truly protective diet for the cardiovascular system. The diet recommends a moderate daily consumption of wine, which, even in large-scale epidemiological studies has demonstrated to have protective effects on cardiovascular pathologies and favorable effects overall on mortality from all causes”, Professor Pasquale Ferrone Filardi, president of the Italian Society of Cardiology, told WineNews.
“Rather than following media leaks, let's stick to what science has certified. The main point is the correct dosage, moderate quantity, but also the age that one approaches alcohol, which one should absolutely abstain from until they have reached legal age. Moderate alcohol consumption means a glass of wine with a meal, which does not cause any damage to the cardiovascular system or to other pathologies. Companies and the media need to communicate the delicate and complex relationship between wine and health to the general public. They must be very careful and pay close attention to the problem of abuse, especially among young people, because it exists, and it is a phenomenon that must be confronted (as well as bad eating habits), starting from pre-adolescence. Otherwise, we will find ourselves immersed in ever-increasing consumption of junk food, childhood obesity becoming more and more a major problem, and incorrect habits in consumption of alcoholic beverages that cause a lot of damage”.
Giorgio Calabrese, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Alessandria, and often appearing on television shows as a nutritionist, chose irony, instead, to emphasize that, “our European friends are envious of our longevity, and are trying to impoverish us, too, instead of making everyone rich. Our food culture is a fundamental defense and an additional weapon against many diseases. In Europe, where medicines are the same everywhere, the difference, then, is lifestyle. Let me be clear, though, I’m not against new things, but rather against anything that lowers the level of what we have. I’m thinking of our agricultural products, which don’t need to be improved through GMOs or insect meal, but rather working with agricultural techniques that will improve quality. If we don't do this, our life expectancy will certainly be lower and lower”. Carlo Gaudio, Professor of Cardiology at the La Sapienza University of Rome and president of CREA, said the real danger, “comes from false science and false information. Looking at macroeconomic and statistical data, Italy is the third country in the world for longevity. Furthermore, in the Province of Trento, where wine and meat are produced and consumed, life expectancy is higher than in Japan. Our Mediterranean diet is healthy, but its basic principles must be respected; variety of dishes, portions, freshness, and not excluding anything. In this context, I would not want to impose a single thought, or a single diet, or a single dish on us. Nothing must be excluded from the table, and wine is recommended by the Italian Society of Cardiology, as well as by the European one, because the effects of two 125 ml glasses of wine per meal for men (and one glass per meal for women), are healthy”.
Professor Gaetano Tanzilli, chief cardiologist at the Sapienza University Hospital in Rome, also reiterated that, “wine has always been considered a complement to the diet. Over the past few years, it has been shown that it is no longer a matter of culture and tradition, but above all, scientific evidence. As a matter of fact, controlled studies, random studies and observational studies have all unequivocally demonstrated that moderate consumption, but also regular consumption over time, and above all, as included in the Mediterranean Diet, in the context of meals, produces beneficial effects in terms of overall mortality and reducing cardiovascular events”. According to Paolo Calabrò, professor of Cardiology at the University of Campania, it is therefore necessary “to enhance the quality of our food and our dietary model, the Mediterranean Diet, a cultural heritage, universally recognized as the foundation of good nutrition, which means good health and prevention. We must pay more attention to the nutrition of the youngest people in our society, because today’s adolescents will be tomorrow’s adults. Therefore, it is essential to teach food education in schools”.
Finally, the Minister of Agriculture and Food and Forestry Sovereignty, Francesco Lollobrigida, commented, reiterating the necessity to “condemn the abuse of alcohol, but not the consumption of wine. This is the fundamental difference. Wine, as science has said, in moderate quantities, is a product that is good for you, and we need to focus our attention on this. There have been many discussions in Europe on this subject, but over time, precisely in the food and wine sector, many mistakes have been made at the European Community level. Now, we need the European Union to make the right choices, starting from practicality, like Italy, which has significant data demonstrating that wine does not cause damage to health. We are the second Country on the planet for longevity, due also to the bond and lifestyle in our way of eating and drinking that has been handed down for generations. The State must support quality agriculture and food processing, which allows citizens to be healthy today and in the future as well. A correct nutritional education, based on the Mediterranean diet, has been handed down in our families for generations. It is a model that today is running the risk of being distorted by market logic. We were educated on the concept of good and healthy food, but today there is trendy food. This is why, together with the support of science, we must offer correct information to people, who have the right to be able to distinguish between one product and another, and consciously choose their diet”, concluded Minister Lollobrigida.

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