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Approved Research

Is alcohol a key component of the Mediterranean diet or simply a convenient freeloader?

Principal Investigator: Dr Michael Zulyniak
Approved Research ID: 76555
Approval date: May 12th 2022

Lay summary

The Mediterranean diet is defined by high intakes of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals, fish, and a moderate consumption of alcohol (1 serving /day) and lower intakes of processed foods, red meats, dairy products, and refined sugars. While  the role of fruits, vegetables, cereals, nuts, and fish on improving is well known, alcohol intake (even moderate consumption) is most commonly linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancers, and death. This begs the question "Would a Mediterranean diet without alcohol provide greater health benefits than a Mediterranean diet with alcohol"? While this question has been asked, it remains unclear because of the complexities of research studies and alcohol data collection.  This study proposes a novel approach, that will use genetic data (rather than participant reported intakes) to predict low and high alcohol consumers and see if the effects of the Mediterranean diet on heart disease and cancer risk differ between them. This will offer solid evidence and allow to better understand if alcohol is a component of the Mediterranean diet that is required to gain health benefits, or if the Mediterranean diet is more beneficial when no (or very low) amounts of alcohol are consumed.