Health Benefits of Resveratrol

The health benefits of resveratrol are thought to be manifold. Its most touted attribute: resveratrol could help slow the aging process. The possibility of life-extending properties for a substance contained in red wine was first discovered because of a curious fact called the French Paradox. In spite of eating incredibly rich foods, loaded with butters and fats, the people of France tend to have a longer than normal life-span (and tend not to be obese). This was, at first, assumed to be a genetic trait, but as French people emigrated from France, those that changed their life-styles saw their life-expectancy return to normal. Thus genetics did not explain the paradox. It was then that French culture was investigated and, after a time, it became understood that it was a moderate consumption of red wine that accounted for the longer life-spans.

Wine on the Brain Sculpture

Later research isolated the substance in red wine that contained the life-extending properties. This substance was called resveratrol. Experiments in mice found that very high doses could extend the lives of laboratory animals, with few apparent side-effects due to resveratrol consumption.

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Resveratrol acts as an antioxidant which means that it fights free radicals. Free radicals break down DNA in individual cells. Because DNA is so important in cell reproduction, flaws in it can cause many problems. Since resveratrol protects DNA by suppressing free radicals it helps prevent the development of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other age related problems.

Bad Cholesterol works to build up plaque that blocks the veins and arteries of the circulatory system. Resveratrol reduces cholesterol helping to protect the blood vessels. It also thins the blood slightly, helping prevent blood clots that can be suddenly lethal.

Some studies have shown that resveratrol helps control arthritis by reducing inflammation caused by substances like COX-2.1 It has also reduced the severity of non-alcoholic liver disease in rats2, a fact which may have implications for humans.

Resveratrol lessens the most common symptoms of diabetes, such as polyphagia (which is basically excessive eating). Though it does not cure diabetes, resveratrol may help to control the symptoms.

In the test tube (in vitro), experiments have shown that resveratrol has anti-viral effects against herpes simplex virus, and seems to enhance the effectiveness of anti-HIV drugs.

There is some evidence that resveratrol applied topically could help prevent skin cancer. Experiments in lab animals shows that direct contact of resveratrol with cancer cells also has a beneficial effect in the gastro-intestinal tract.3

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  1. NIH Study
  2. Liver Disease
  3. NIH Study: Cancer Prevention

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