Red wine: the benefits of resveratrol
We call it the “French Paradox”. The French are renowned for being bon vivant and the lucky ones who can taste the best wines. We also notice, strangely, that they are less affected by cardiovascular disease and have less cholesterol than their European neighbors and the Americans.
Red wine is rich in resveratrol , a plant compound that has the potential to boost health on its own. Consuming and supplementing resveratrol is linked to many exciting health benefits, including protection of brain function and blood pressure balance.
This article takes you through what you need to know about resveratrol and its main health benefits.
What is resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a plant compound that acts as an antioxidant.
The main food sources are red wine, grapes, certain berries and peanuts.
This compound is mainly concentrated in the skin and seeds .
These parts of the grape are included in the fermentation of red wine, hence its particularly high concentration of resveratrol.
Its benefits on blood pressure
Due to its antioxidant properties, resveratrol may be a promising blood pressure lowering supplement.
A 2015 review concluded that high doses may help reduce pressure on artery walls when the heart beats. This type of pressure is called systolic blood pressure (the top number in blood pressure readings).
Systolic blood pressure usually increases with age because the arteries stiffen. When it is high, the risk of heart disease increases proportionally.
Resveratrol can lower blood pressure because it promotes increased production of nitric oxide, a gas that is responsible for the proper dilation of our blood vessels.
However, the authors of this study stress that more research is needed before specific recommendations can be made on the best dose of resveratrol to consider for arterial health.
Red wine protects the brain
Several studies suggest that drinking red wine may help slow down age-related cognitive decline . This may be in part due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of resveratrol.
It appears to interfere with fragments of beta-amyloid proteins, plaques that form around neurons in certain neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
In addition, resveratrol can trigger a chain of events that protects brain cells.
Resveratrol and insulin sensitivity
Resveratrol has been shown to have several benefits for the management of diabetes. These benefits include increasing insulin sensitivity and preventing complications from diabetes.
Resveratrol may stop a certain enzyme from converting glucose into sorbitol , a sweet alcohol. When too much sorbitol builds up in people with diabetes, it can create oxidative stress that is harmful to cells.
It can relieve joint pain
Arthritis is a common condition that causes joint pain and loss of mobility.
Food supplements are one of the best methods for preventing and reducing joint pain. Resveratrol is one of those active ingredients that help protect cartilage from deterioration .
In one study, resveratrol was injected into the knees of rabbits with arthritis.
The researchers found that these rabbits suffered less pain and regained better mobility than the group that did not receive an injection.
Other test-tube and animal research suggests that the compound has the potential to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage.
Resveratrol and cancer cells
Resveratrol has been studied, particularly in test tubes, for its ability to prevent and treat cancer.
In animal and test-tube studies, resveratrol has been shown to effectively fight several types of cancer cells, including gastric, colon, skin, breast, and prostate cells
How Resveratrol can fight cancer cells:
- It can inhibit the growth of cancer cells by preventing them from replicating and spreading.
- Resveratrol can change the expression of genes in cancer cells to inhibit their growth.
- It can have hormonal effects and interfere with the way certain hormones are expressed, which can prevent hormone-dependent cancers from spreading.