So What Is Resveratrol, Anyway?
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound, commonly found in the skin of red grapes and other dark berries. It is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and protects the body from damage due to oxidative stress (for more on oxidative stress, check out our blog post on Chaga mushroom). For plants, resveratrol acts as a protective agent from fungal diseases, sun damage and other potentially fatal hazards.
In humans, antioxidants have been shown to protect against aging, inflammation and even cancer. The many health claims of resveratrol include protecting cardiovascular health, lowering cholesterol and blood glucose levels, reducing risk of certain cancers and even combating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. One study in the November 2011 issue of Cell Metabolism showed that 150 mg of resveratrol once daily for 30 days significantly lowered blood pressure, tumor necrosis factor (an inflammatory marker), blood glucose and insulin concentrations, and plasma triglyceride concentrations, among other findings.
Resveratrol is also hypothesized to be the reason for the notoriously low rates of heart disease among the French population. The high concentration of resveratrol in the skin of red grapes, means it makes its way into red wine (and white wine) during the fermentation process. If it’s one thing we know about the French, it’s that they love their red wine. So, despite the high-fat diets and high-risk lifestyles the French are also famous for, moderate consumption of the ‘Nectar of the Gods’, and hence high levels of dietary resveratrol, is thought to be a key contributor to this observation.
It is important to note that resveratrol is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of any disease, but is deemed safe for use as no adverse reactions have ever been observed from taking resveratrol. Although more human studies are undoubtedly needed to confirm these health benefits conclusively, the use of resveratrol as a dietary supplement is common and many find benefits from its use.