5 Potential Health Benefits of Resveratrol

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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When stories in the news tout the possible health benefits of red wine, they active ingredient they’re really talking about is resveratrol, a type of antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes, red wine, purple grape juice, peanuts and raspberries.

While preliminary research shows resveratrol may help to protect against heart disease and other medical conditions, experts such as Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University, say they need more studies and clinical trials to determine the impact of resveratrol on the way diseases take shape within the body. For now, Kris-Etherton says there’s no harm in adding foods that contain resveratrol to your daily diet. You can enjoy a glass of red wine each night, dark chocolate in moderation, red and white grapes, tomatoes with the skin still on them, apples, peanuts, and dark red berries including cranberries, raspberries and blueberries. While a nutritious diet offers many health rewards, resveratrol in particular can have these added benefits:

1. Improves Heart Health

A study published in 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those who had a nightly glass of red wine with dinner, along with eating a Mediterranean diet, significantly increased their levels of good HDL cholesterol and, as a bonus, reported better sleep quality.

2. Helps Control Blood Sugar

Several recent studies have shown that resveratrol may prove to be an important tool in helping those with diabetes to manage their blood sugar. By taking resveratrol along with metformin, the most widely prescribed type 2 diabetic medication, diabetics were able to lower their blood sugar levels.

3. Helps Fight Cancer

Research has also shown how resveratrol might be used effectively to fight cancer. One study showed the powerful antioxidant stopped breast cancer cells from growing by blocking the growth effects of estrogen. Other studies have shown resveratrol might also stop the progression of skin cancer, colon cancer and leukemia.

4. Protects Against Alzheimer’s

R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C., conducted a clinical trial to see if a pharmaceutical-grade of pure resveratrol, not available commercially, would make a difference in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. These amounts aren’t just what you’d find in a single glass of wine. The highest dose of resveratrol tested was one gram by mouth twice daily—equal to the amount found in about 1,000 bottles of red wine.

Those who took this amount showed reduced decline in daily activities such as cooking, getting dressed and using the telephone. While the results are promising, Turner says a larger study is warranted to test the effectiveness of resveratrol on patients with Alzheimer’s.

5. Keeps You Young at Heart

Want to look and feel younger? Kris-Etherton says researchers have linked resveratrol with the French Paradox, a phenomenon where people in France who typically eat a diet high in fat-laden pastries and creamy sauces, have better heart health than Americans. “Studies seem to suggest that part of the reason for the French Paradox lies in their love of red wine, which contains resveratrol that has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote a young healthy heart and mind,” Kris-Etherton says.

Resveratrol is just one part of an overall healthy diet, which should include fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Talk to your doctor about how resveratrol might help reduce your risk of certain conditions, and how to focus on the foods that will keep your body at its best.

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  1. Effects of Initiating Moderate Alcohol Intake on Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2456121
  2. How Resveratrol May Fight Aging. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-resveratrol-may-fight-aging
  3. Two Compounds Target the Gut to Lower Blood Sugar. University Health Network. http://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/PressReleases/Pages/two_compounds_target_the_gut_to_lower_blood_sugar.aspx
  4. Red wine ingredient resveratrol stops breast cancer growth, study suggests. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929103222.htm
  5. Sulfate Metabolites Provide an Intracellular Pool for Resveratrol Generation and Induce Autophagy with Senescence. Science Translational Medicine. http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/5/205/205ra133.abstract?sid=bfa9e8c8-abb5-40c4-9b5c-ce20ddc6b7ae
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 8
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