Resveratrol is a nutrient best known for its heart-protective properties. It is part of the polyphenol family, a group of plant compounds offering powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Resveratrol was originally discovered in the 1940s, and started gaining attention in the early ‘90s when it was recognized as a possible explanation for the “French Paradox”, a term describing the low incidence of heart disease among the French population, despite eating a high-fat diet. (16) Resveratrol offers a range of anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-cancer benefits, and research has shown it to be an important nutrient in the prevention of chronic disease. (1)
5 health benefits of resveratrol
Resveratrol can provide a wide range of benefits in the body, including lowering blood glucose, protecting heart health, slowing down the aging process, and keeping inflammation in check. Below are five exciting areas of research highlighting the reasons you may want to include this antioxidant in your daily routine!
1. Improving heart and brain health
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of resveratrol is its cardio-protective action. There are numerous studies examining the role of resveratrol in heart health, including its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and inhibit atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries). (1)
A 2012 double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 40 post-heart attack patients examined the potential of resveratrol in lowering cholesterol. After three months of supplementation with 10 mg of resveratrol per day, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) was significantly decreased. (2) An earlier study from 2003 found resveratrol was also able to inhibit plaque adhesion to arterial walls. (3)
Resveratrol also possesses neuro-protective properties for the brain, protecting against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. (1) However, more clinical trials are needed to explore these potential therapeutic properties. (4)
2. Promoting longevity and free radical protection
Free radicals are molecules in the body that can damage cells, leading to premature aging and a host of other detrimental conditions, such as heart disease, neuro-degeneration, and kidney dysfunction. (1)(5) Free radicals are caused by various factors, such as prolonged UV exposure, pollution, and poor diet.
Thankfully, resveratrol acts as an antioxidant, scavenging the body to neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage. Along with other nutrients for longevity, resveratrol plays a key role in preventing disease and promoting healthy aging. If that’s not enough, research has even indicated that resveratrol may activate longevity assurance genes and extend lifespans! (1)
3. Lowering your inflammatory response
The perils of chronic inflammation are becoming more and more apparent in today’s health landscape. Abnormally high levels of inflammation in the body can cause tissue damage, leading to health concerns such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. (4)
To naturally reduce inflammation in the body, following an anti-inflammatory diet rich in plants may be beneficial. Polyphenols, such as resveratrol, found in richly pigmented foods possess anti-inflammatory properties that help repair tissue damage caused by chronic inflammation. (6)
4. Balancing hormones
Women experiencing imbalanced hormone levels may find benefit from resveratrol supplementation. A 2016 randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that 1.5 g of resveratrol supplementation daily reduced testosterone levels in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). (7)
In addition, resveratrol is classified as a phytoestrogen due to its similar chemical structure to estrogen. Phytoestrogens mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and are frequently attributed to various health benefits including lowered risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and menopausal symptoms. (8) If you have a history of estrogen-sensitive cancer, however, check with your integrative healthcare practitioner first to determine if resveratrol supplementation is appropriate for you.
5. Supporting healthy skin
Due to its antioxidant effects, topical application of resveratrol can slow skin aging and may be useful in conjunction with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and CoQ10, for minimizing fine lines and mitigating sun damage. (9) Resveratrol may also have a protective effect against skin cancer, however, further research is needed. (10)
Foods high in resveratrol
Foods high in resveratrol include:
- Grapes, red and white
- Raspberries (11)
Since resveratrol is concentrated in grape skins, red wine has a notably higher content than white wine, (12) which has contributed to the popular belief that having a glass of red wine daily may support heart health.
Did you know? Pinot noir and St. Laurent red wines have been shown to contain the highest levels of resveratrol. (13)
Best ways to supplement with resveratrol
Taking supplemental resveratrol is a great way to take advantage of its benefits since a wide range of factors, including gut flora composition, hormones, and gender, can influence the utilization of food-based resveratrol in your system. (4) Most resveratrol supplements are made from the Asian plant Polygonum cuspidatum, commonly referred to as Japanese knotweed, but you can also find supplements made from red wine or grape skin extract. (1)
Research suggests that short-term, low and divided doses under one gram are considered safe and well tolerated. (14) Before considering supplementation, it is important to check with your integrative healthcare provider to find the right dose for you.
If resveratrol supplementation is suggested, keep in mind that taking resveratrol away from high-fat meals has shown to improve absorption rate. (4) The type of resveratrol with which you supplement can also make a difference. A 2013 study showed that taking 40 mg of soluble resveratrol was much better absorbed than dry powder tablets. (15)
The bottom line
Resveratrol is a compound offering anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-aging benefits. Since it has been shown to protect your heart, brain, and tissues against inflammation, consider adding more resveratrol-rich foods to your diet and ask your integrative healthcare provider if resveratrol supplementation is right for you.
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- Mukherjee, S., Dudley, J. I.,. & Das, D.K. (2010). Dose-dependency of resveratrol in providing health benefits. Dose Response, 8(4), 478-500. Doi: 10.2203/dose-response.09-015.Mukherjee
- Magyar, K., Halmosi, R., Palfi, A., et al. (2012). Cardioprotection by resveratrol: A human clinical trial in patients with stable coronary artery disease. Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation, 50(3), 179-187. Doi: 10.3233/CH-2011-1424.
- Carluccio, M.A., Siculella, L., Ancora, M.A., et al. (2003). Olive oil and red wine antioxidant polyphenols inhibit endothelial activation: Antiatherogenic properties of Mediterranean diet phytochemicals. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 23(4), 622-629. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12615669
- Ramírez-Garza, S.L., Laveriano-Santos, E.P., Marhuenda-Muñoz, M., et al. (2018). Health effects of resveratrol: Results from human intervention trials. Nutrients. 10(12). doi: 10.3390/nu10121892
- Galinak, S., Aebisher, D., & Bartusik-Aebisher, D. (2019). Health benefits of resveratrol administration. The Journal of the Polish Biochemical Society and of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 66(1). https://doi.org/10.18388/abp.2018_2749
- de Sá Coutinho, D., Pacheco, M.T., Frozza, R.L., & Bernardi, A. (2018). Anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol: mechanistic insights. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 19(6). doi: 10.3390/ijms19061812.
- Banaszewska, B., Wrotyńska-Barczyńska, J., Spaczynski, R.Z., Pawelczyk, L.& Duleba, A.J. (2016). Effects of resveratrol on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 101(11). 4322-4328. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27754722
- Gehm, B.D., McAndrews, J.M., Chien, P., & Jameson, J.L. (1997). Resveratrol, a polyphenolic compound found in grapes and wine, is an agonist for the estrogen receptor. Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 94(25): 14138–14143. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.25.14138
- Puizina-Ivić, N., Mirić, L., Carija, A., Karlica, D., & Marasović, D. (2010). Modern approach to topical treatment of aging skin. Collegium Anthropologicum. 34(3). 1145-1153. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20977120
- Ndiaye, M., Phillipe, C., Mukhtar, H., & Ahmad, N. (2011). The grape antioxidant resveratrol for skin disorders: Promise, prospects and challenges. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 508(2). 164-170. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2010.12.030
- Castaldo, L., Narvaez, A., Izzo, L., et al. (2019). Red wine consumption and cardiovascular health. Molecules. 24(19). 3626. doi: 10.3390/molecules24193626
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- Amiot, M.J., Romier, B., Dao, T.M., et al. (2013). Optimization of trans-resveratrol bioavailability for human therapy. Biochimie. 95(6). 1233-1238. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2013.01.008.
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