The Buzz on Resveratrol

Hello!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been out of the country, and while I was gone, somebody turned up the heat in Georgia!  In addition to pool days and cook outs, for me summer means its peak season for colorful veggies and nutrient-dense fruits like watermelon and strawberries.

Speaking of berries, today I want to talk about resveratrol.  Resveratrol has been a big topic of interest in the health community in recent years.  Perhaps you’ve heard a few things here and there, but you’ve been wondering what the hype is all about.  I was also interested in learning more about this up-and-coming antioxidant, so I did a little research.  I’d like to pass along what I learned to you.

What is Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a polyphenol, an antioxidant that can protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.  It’s found in peanuts, plums, the skin of red and purple grapes and in other berries like strawberries, blueberries and cranberries.  There are also high levels in red wine.

The benefits of resveratrol were first publicized in the early 1990’s, when scientists were researching the French Paradox, the observation that the French people suffer relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite the fact that their diet is rich in saturated fats.  They began conducting studies concluding that red wine decreases the incidence of cardiac diseases.  In 1991, a special on the possible health benefits of red wine ran on 60 Minutes, and as a result, the consumption of red wine increased 44% and some wineries began lobbying for the right to label their products as a health food.

Scientists believe that high levels of resveratrol is one of the major factors in the French Paradox.

Reported Health Benefits of Resveratrol in Clinical Trials:

  • Powerful antioxidant activity, supports healthy cellular function
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Protects the heart by increasing blood flow and preventing clots and artery damage
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Enhanced male reproduction activity
  • Supports neurological health
  • Improved exercise performance
  • Delays age-related deterioration

For more information on the possible health benefits of resveratrol, check out this 60 Minutes Special, Wine Rx, that ran in January of 2009 and this resveratrol summary by the Linus Pauling Institute.

There is still a lot to learn about resveratrol.  Much of the resveratrol research has been conducted on animals, rather than people.  Mice studies suggest that the antioxidant might also help protect against obesity and diabetes, two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  It will be interesting to see what discoveries are made in the next few years.

Resveratrol is not known to be toxic, and so far no adverse effects have been found in humans.

What’s the Best Way to Consume Resveratrol?

  • Eat/Drink Up!  Peanuts, grapes and other berries are an excellent addition to a whole foods diet.  Unfortunately, to get the same dose of resveratrol used in the mice studies, a person would have to drink more than 60 liters of red wine every day.  I don’t recommend that!  But a little red wine in moderation doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me.  You can also get resveratrol from grape juice, but just be careful that you aren’t consuming large amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Take a Supplement.  Resveratrol is best absorbed and effective when combined with other antioxidants.  Research suggests that resveratrol and quercetin work synergistically to provide more anti-aging and immune support than resveratrol alone.    Taking 175 mg of pure resveratrol in capsule form is the equivalent amount of resveratrol in 600 glasses of red wine!

Go enjoy some antioxidant-rich fruits this week and get a little resveratrol in your system!  (As if we needed another health benefit to let us know we should eat fruit!)  Or enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your dinner tonight (Don’t mind if I do!).  If you’re interested in more than just an antioxidant, and want to boost your exercise performance, protect your heart and boost your brain power, I suggest taking a high-quality resveratrol supplement.  Feel free to contact me if you need any suggestions on good brands.

Happy Summer!

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Filed under Healthy Tips, Rants and Cravings

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