Resveratrol is a plant compound that acts like an antioxidant. It is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They behave like antioxidants and protect the body against damage from free radicals. In preclinical studies, resveratrol has been shown to help in the prevention and/or treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Resveratrol is produced in response to injury or when the plant is under attack by invaders such as bacteria or fungi, and even protects the plant from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In 1992 researchers began looking into the effect of resveratrol on human health, and it has been suggested that it may be protective against many of the most debilitating diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Resveratrol is rapidly metabolized by the liver.
- It may inhibit cancer cell growth: It may prevent cancer cells from replicating and spreading.
- Resveratrol may change gene expression: It can change the gene expression in cancer cells to inhibit their growth.
- It can have hormonal effects: Resveratrol may interfere with the way certain hormones are expressed, which may keep hormone-dependent cancers from spreading.
Several studies in animals have suggested that resveratrol supplements may change blood fats in a healthy way. A 2016 study fed mice a high-protein, high-polyunsaturated fat diet and also gave them resveratrol supplements. Researchers found the average total cholesterol levels and body weight of the mice decreased, and their levels of HDL cholesterol increased. Resveratrol seems to influence cholesterol levels by reducing the effect of an enzyme that controls cholesterol production As an antioxidant, it also may decrease the oxidation LDL cholesterol. LDL oxidation contributes to plaque buildup in artery walls.
One explanation for how resveratrol works is that it may stop a certain enzyme from turning glucose into sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. When too much sorbitol builds up in people with diabetes, it can create cell-damaging oxidative stress.
Resveratrol helps prevent insulin resistance, a condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. The condition can lead to diabetes. Researchers believe that resveratrol activates the SIRT1 gene. That gene is believed to protect the body against the effects of obesity and the diseases of aging.
Resveratrol may protect nerve cells from damage and fight the plaque buildup that can lead to Alzheimer’s. It seems to interfere with protein fragments called beta-amyloids, which are crucial to forming the plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
- May protect against oxidative stress: Its antioxidant action may help protect against oxidative stress, which causes some of the complications of diabetes.
- Helps decrease inflammation: Resveratrol is thought to lessen inflammation, a key contributor to chronic diseases, including diabetes.
- Activates AMPK: This is a protein that helps the body metabolize glucose. Activated AMPK helps keep blood sugar levels low.
Plant-based supplements are being studied as a way to treat and prevent joint pain. When taken as a supplement, resveratrol may help protect cartilage from deteriorating. Cartilage breakdown is one of the main symptoms of arthritis.
The top food sources include red wine, grapes, some berries and peanuts. Manufacturers have tried create a resveratrol supplement. Most resveratrol capsules sold in the U.S. contain extracts from an Asian plant called Polygonum cuspidatum. Other resveratrol supplements are made from red wine or red grape extracts.
These supplements might interact with blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), and NSAID medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. That may raise your chance of bleeding.As with other supplements, the FDA doesn’t regulate resveratrol. That makes it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting or whether the product is effective. There also isn’t any specific dosage recommendation, and how much you should take can vary from supplement to supplement.
The dosages in most resveratrol supplements are typically much lower than the amounts that have been shown beneficial in research. Most supplements contain 250 to 500 milligrams. To get the dose used in some studies, people would have to consume 2 grams of resveratrol (2,000 milligrams) or more a day. Unfortunately, your body can’t absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements.
Simply eating grapes or drinking grape juice might be a way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine. Peanuts, blueberries and cranberries also contain some resveratrol.
How to Buy
Buy fresh, organic grapes, cranberries and blueberries when possible. Check for produce that is mold-free and vibrant. When buying peanuts, look for sources where there is a good turnover. Peanuts develop mold easily.
How to Store
Store fresh fruit in the fridge. Wash before ready to use. To preserve the quality of your nuts, keep them away from onions and other high-odor foods. They tend to take on the smell of things around them. Store shelled nuts at room temperature for up to three months. Store shelled or unshelled nuts in the refrigerator for up to six months, or in the freezer for a year or more.
Red wine is one of the best sources of resveratrol.
- Store Wine at the Proper Temperature.
- Store Wine Bottles Horizontally.
- Protect Wine from Light and Vibration.
- Store Wine at the Proper Humidity.
- Store Wine in a Wine Fridge, Not a Regular Fridge.
- Serve Wine at the Proper Temperature.
- Store Open Bottles of Wine Properly.
How to Cook
It is easy to incorpoate fresh berries into your diet. Make jam or toss them into a salad, with some peanuts for extra resveratrol.
Analysis of studies found the optimal daily intake of red wine to be 1 glass for women and 2 glasses for men. Drinking this moderate amount of wine is okay, while drinking more than that may impact your health.