Health Benefits of this Powerful Antioxidant*
Resveratrol is a powerful polyphenol antioxidant and anti-fungal chemical. It is said to be unique among antioxidants because it can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect the brain and nervous system. Its benefits are wide reaching.
Resveratrol is a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. It can also be produced by chemical synthesis.
Its molecular formula is C14H12O3. (3,5,4’-trihydroxystilbene). It is a white powder with slight yellow colouring.
Sources of Resveratrol
Resveratrol is found in red grapes, mainly in the skin and seeds, and is a constituent of red wine. It is also found in mulberries (especially the skin), peanuts, blueberries, cocoa and dark chocolate. There is approximately 80 micrograms of resveratrol in 30grams of peanuts, compared to approximately 160 micrograms in 30ml of red wine. The amount of resveratrol in red wine can vary depending on the growing season and the type of grape the wine comes from. However nearly all the darker red wines contain far higher amounts of resveratrol than white wines or grape juice.
Red wine can contain up to 5.8 mg of resveratrol per litre, depending on the grape variety. The reason for this is that red wine is fermented with skins, allowing the wine to absorb the resveratrol, whereas white wine is fermented after the skin has been removed. Also, the amount of fermentation time a wine spends in contact with the grape skins is an important determinant of its resveratrol content.
Resveratrol is highly soluble in alcohol, which means that your body may absorb more of it from red wine than from other sources.
There is one manufacturer of red wine in Australia, Dr Red, (www.drred.com.au) where there is an extra processing of the grape skin and seeds to extract all of the resveratrol as well as the other antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are then added to the wine. The end product is claimed to be “an antioxidant enriched drink”. More recently, “Dr Red Nutraceuticals” have developed a new wine, “Dr Purple Wine”, containing purple carrots which “contain the highest level of the antioxidant groups – polyacetylenes and anthocyanins”. Anthocyanins are the antioxidants that create the purple-red pigment and tend to be the main polyphenolics in purple grapes and purple carrots. Resveratrol is a polyphenol antioxidant.
Effects of Resveratrol
In 2003, research showed that resveratrol was able to increase the lifespan of yeast cells. According to the findings, resveratrol could activate a gene called sirtuin 1, which is also activated during calorie restriction in various species. Calorie restriction in animals has been shown to extend the life of the animal (see my February 2010 newsletter Caloric Restriction and Longevity). Since then, studies in nematode worms, fruit flies, fish and mice have linked resveratrol to longer lives, similar to calorie-restriction.
Other studies of resveratrol have shown:
· anti-cancer effects
· anti-inflammatory effects (see below)
· cardiovascular benefits
· anti-diabetes potential
· energy endurance enhancement
· protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant. It is unique among antioxidants because it can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect the brain and nervous system. As an antioxidant, it protects the cells of the body from free radical damage.
Resveratrol appears to be effective at warding off many diseases associated with aging.
A recent study has shown that resveratrol stops inflammation by preventing the body from creating two different molecules known to trigger inflammation, namely sphingosine kinase and phosphoipase D. While inflammation is a natural response in the body (it is a process in which the body’s white blood cells protect you from outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses), it is possible for your body to exist in a chronically inflamed state. Chronic inflammation is not a beneficial response, and in fact has been linked to numerous chronic diseases including heart disease.
Resveratrol’s benefits do look promising.
It is interesting that resveratrol seems to produce many similar benefits as exercise. Should resveratrol replace exercise? Of course NOT. It can, however, be a powerful addition to exercise.
Increasing your intake of resveratrol may be a way to lower inflammation in your body, but it is not the only way. If you are suffering from excess inflammation it is important to take note of your diet, and change it as necessary, because inflammation is aggravated by oxidised cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid), excess sugar and grains, foods cooked at high temperatures and trans fats.
Unfortunately, if you were to claim the daily benefits of resveratrol by drinking red wine, you would need to consume quite a few bottles, which is not really advisable. Guidelines to alcohol consumption should be followed. See p120 of my book How to Live to 100+ Years Free from Symptoms and Disease and my March 2008 newsletter Prevention of Cancer, recommendation number 6.
Apart from the natural sources of resveratrol, there are a number of products containing it on the market. Most of the supplements are in the form of tablets or capsules. The ideal product should be made from muscadine grapes, using whole grape skins and seeds, since this is where many of the benefits are concentrated.
www.iherb.com is a supplier of supplements that are of high quality. iHerb list dozens of different brands with various amounts, ranging from 20mg to 200mg of resveratrol per tablet/capsule.
The recommended dose is 100-200mg daily.
Drug companies are not able to patent any herbal medicinal extracts. In view of the potential health benefits of resveratrol, research by certain pharmaceutical companies into synthesised chemical cousins to resveratrol (ie not occurring in nature), hopefully with the same health benefits, is well underway. SRT1720, one of these drugs that is said to target the same enzyme that resveratrol targets, is in the final stages of animal testing, the final step before clinical testing.
More important than yet another drug to try and extend life-span is a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet (see my September 2005 newsletter Acid/Alkaline Balance - The Ideal Diet), clean water, fresh air, exercise, sunlight and vitamin D, adequate rest and relaxation, a positive mental outlook and supportive relationships.
*Copyright 2011 The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the Huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
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