You must have heard that having a glass of red wine provides several health benefits. It is because, along with the alcohol content, red wine also has a significant quantity of a compound known as resveratrol. This compound has gained considerable popularity as researchers have conducted several studies to establish its health benefits. Many studies have revealed that resveratrol can benefit humans when consumed in appropriate quantities. So is a bowl full of grapes or a glass of wine sufficient to get enough resveratrol to reap its health benefits. Let's find out.
What is resveratrol, and how does it work?
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound found in several plant species, especially red grapes. It belongs to a group of compounds known as polyphenols and is known to have antioxidant properties. Resveratrol in grapes is mainly found in the skin and seeds. It acts as a part of a plant's defense mechanism to protect against harmful fungi, microbial infections, ultraviolet radiation, and injury.
Resveratrol is said to be benefit humans owing to its antioxidant properties. Excessive free radicals produced in the body can cause damage to tissue, proteins, and DNA. As an antioxidant, resveratrol works against these free radicals by scavenging them or facilitating their decomposition.
Health Benefits of Resveratrol
It is believed that resveratrol in wines promotes good health. Many researchers have conducted animal and laboratory tests to establish this fact, and it has been found that resveratrol does show antiviral, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, one must not forget that these findings are not confirmed due to limited studies conducted on humans. Now let us look at the potential health benefits one can reap by regularly incorporating resveratrol in the diet.
1. Reduces the risk of heart disease
Resveratrol may help in reducing the risk of developing heart diseases. This is because its antioxidant properties form a protective layer in the blood vessels, thereby reducing the effects of stress or injury. In addition, resveratrol is thought to increase HDL levels in the body and lower LDL levels, leading to improved heart health.
2. Lowers blood pressure
Systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted on the walls of blood vessels when the heart beats and pumps blood to various organs. Systolic blood pressure is known to increase with age. Resveratrol may help lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the chances of developing heart ailments.
3. Has anti-aging properties
Aging results from oxidative stress wherein unstable molecules like free radicals are produced excessively in the body. These free radicals cause cell damage and aggravate signs of aging. As resveratrol is an antioxidant, it reduces the effects of these free radicals in the body, thus slowing the process of aging.
4. Prevents insulin resistance
Diabetes is a condition in which the body's sensitivity to insulin is reduced, which results in increased blood sugar levels. Resveratrol helps in preventing insulin resistance and keeps blood sugar levels in check.
5. Improves brain health
As resveratrol has anti-inflammatory properties, it may help reduce nerve damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.
6. Reduces blood clotting
Polyphenols like resveratrol are known to have a positive effect on blood clots. These can reduce the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels and prevent a blockage.
7. Has anti-cancer properties
Cancer is the abnormal multiplication of cells in the body. Resveratrol may help suppress the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.
8. Reduces arthritis pain
Resveratrol helps in arthritis by preventing cartilage damage and reducing the pain and inflammation in affected joints.
How much resveratrol must be consumed daily?
Resveratrol is not categorized as an essential nutrient that and that's why recommended daily allowance of this compound is not specified. However, studies have suggested that a minimum of 500 mg of resveratrol is required to obtain its health benefits. Adults usually take a fixed dose ranging from 250 mg to 1g daily in the form of supplements. It is generally available as pills to be taken by mouth.
What is the amount of resveratrol in grapes and wines?
Red grapes and derived products like juices and red wines contain the highest amount of this polyphenol compared to other foods. It is because the skin and seeds of grapes are allowed to stay longer in the juices during the red winemaking process. In the case of white wine, the skin and seeds are removed much earlier. Therefore, less resveratrol gets incorporated into the wine. So, if you want to derive its benefits through food and plant sources, red wine must be your choice. Pinot noir is a type of red wine with highest resveratrol content of 0.27mg/ 100ml. St. Laurent is another one.
However, if you think that you can get the required daily dose of resveratrol just by drinking wine, you are mistaken. Even a wine with highest resveratrol content won't be enough. The amount of resveratrol in wines is much less compared to what you need daily. For example, a liter of red wine contains around 12.59 mg of resveratrol. It means you will have to drink about 40 liters of red wine daily to get a regular dose of 500 mg of this antioxidant which is definitely not recommended. So, what do you do? Take supplements? Let's see.
Is it necessary to take resveratrol supplements?
Getting health-improving amounts of resveratrol through food and wine is not achievable because the quantity present is insufficient. So, people resort to daily supplements to get the benefits. However, it would be best to talk to your health care provider before starting any supplements. It is more critical in this case because there is not enough evidence supporting the health benefits of resveratrol. Though animal testing has shown some promise, clinical studies on humans are yet to be performed to confirm the same.
If you wish to start resveratrol supplements, do not forget to talk to your doctor about it, as large doses can cause unwanted side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Moreover, resveratrol can interact with certain medications like blood thinners and lead to complications. So, let your doctor know about all the medicines you are on. Unlike drugs, the FDA does not regulate supplements, and one cannot be sure of the amount of resveratrol present in a supplement. So your best bet would be to stick to natural sources of resveratrol like red grapes, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, and red wine. Drinking wine in moderation is the key! Safe amount for men is 10 oz per day, and for women, it is 5 oz. Please note that pregnant women and people with heart ailments must avoid alcohol consumption in any form.