Benefits of Resveratrol:
Is it the Fountain of Youth?

Resveratrol May Slow Down the Aging Process. One of the most exciting benefits of resveratrol is that it appears to slow down aging and even increase the lifespan of human cells. Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant, reducing oxidative stress damage to your cardiovascular system by neutralizing free radicals, and it helps support your body’s natural defenses.

Resveratrol, grape seed extracts, and red wine extracts are all sources of what are called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), a subcategory of anthocyanins, itself a subcategory of bioflavonoids. Don't worry about all these subcategories; they are very closely related and can be described in very similar fashion. You will find supplements that offer one or more of these in combination because of their similar origins and the way they work together.

OPCs are powerful bioflavonoids and potent antioxidants. They are being extensively researched for their many benefits, including promoting skin and eye health, supporting immune function and proper inflammatory responses.

OPCs appear to offset many of the diseases associated with aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and alzheimer’s, in ways similar to the less-desirable (at least, in my opinion) method of calorie restriction. These grape compounds are very similar to those found in pycnogenol, a supplement extracted from the bark of pine trees.

Red Wine and the "French Paradox"

Why is Heart Disease So Rare in France? Researchers initially became interested in exploring the health benefits of resveratrol when its presence was discovered in red wine. In France, consumption of red wine is much higher than in any other westernized society. They also eat a diet high in saturated fat, and smoke a lot. At the same time, their rate of heart disease is much lower. This led to the theory (the so-called "French Paradox") that regular consumption of red wine might provide additional protection from heart disease.

Although moderate alcohol consumption has been consistently associated with 20-30% reductions in the risk of heart disease, researchers are not sure exactly what component in red wine is responsible for this enhanced benefit.

Primary Health Benefits of Resveratrol

Antioxidant Benefits. OPCs are some of the best free-radical scavengers around, because of their ability to work with numerous antioxidative enzymes that your body naturally produces. They also work with members of the antioxidant network, including selenium, vitamin C and lipoic acid, to replenish levels of glutathione, the body’s most abundant antioxidant.

Resveratrol is one of the few antioxidants that can cross your blood-brain barrier and protect your brain and nervous system from degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

One of the more intriguing benefits of resveratrol is that it seems to produce responses in your body that are similar to those you get from exercise, such as re-energizing cells and boosting endurance. This is an area of much interest in research circles these days.

Benefits of Resveratrol: Longevity. Much research is currently being done on resveratrol's ability to extend life span. Studies have shown that eating 30-40 percent fewer calories can extend the life span of a laboratory mouse by up to 50 percent. (Low-calorie diets are one of the well-documented methods of extending life span in mammals). Resveratrol seems to be able to activate a longevity gene that creates this benefit without your having to go on a calorie-restricted diet. Good news!

However, in order to get a similar dose given to the mice in these studies, you would have to drink far more wine than is possible — 5 gallons or more per day! So if you're not drinking already, this is probably not a good reason to start.

Benefits of Resveratrol: Prevent Heart Disease. OPCs may be a potent weapon in the prevention of heart disease.

They strengthen your entire circulatory system in the following ways:

• reducing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream
• preventing blood cells from sticking together
• preventing your arteries from constricting
• improving elasticity in your blood vessels
• keeping your blood pressure under control

Benefits of Resveratrol: Cancer Preventation. Resveratrol has been shown to work against a wide range of cancers, both at the preventive and treatment stages. It seems to have the ability to distinguish a cancer cell from a normal cell, unlike chemotherapeutic drugs that cannot. This unique antioxidant does not damage healthy cells, in fact, it actually protects them. It seems to make tumor cells more sensitive to radiation and normal cells less sensitive, and thus may be a very beneficial supplement for anyone undergoing chemotherapy.

Other benefits of resveratrol as a cancer-preventive antioxidant include:

• resveratrol helps scavenge and remove cancer-causing free-radicals
• it blocks some enzymes that act to promote tumor development
• reduces the number of cell divisions that could lead to cancer
• helps the body get rid of potential cancer cells
• reduces the level of male hormones that promote prostate cancer cells
• helpful in preventing pancreatic, colon, lung, skin, brain and thyroid cancer
• stops the growth of the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers

Food Sources Are Not
Your Best Sources of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a substance produced by grapes and other plants as a defense against environmental threats, such as molds, yeasts, and sunlight, among others. therefore, the content tends to be the highest in grapes that grow under difficult conditions.

Go Organic! The highest levels are found in organic red wines from certain areas of Europe that have cold and damp climates, like the Bordeaux region of France. Red wines have much higher levels than white wines because they are fermented with the skins, where much of the resveratrol is.

Pesticides Reduce Resveratrol Content. Grapes sprayed with pesticides that prevent fungal infection contain little, if any, resveratrol. As mentioned above, grapes produce this antioxidant as a defense mechanism against fungi. If they are protected with the use of pesticides, the grapes don't need to produce as much.

Pesticides Also Increase Toxic Fluoride Content in Wine. A certain insecticide named cryolite has recently been linked to toxic levels of fluoride in Californian wines. Wine naturally contains fluoride, but application of cryolite seems to increase the levles significantly.

A 3 part-per-million (ppm) fluoride limit currently exists for American wines exported to Europe. This is already three times the recommended limit set by the EPA for drinking water. Fluoride levels in wines produced for domestic use may have even higher levels, due to the lack of regulation.

Muscadine Grapes — the Most Potent Source of Resveratrol. Muscadine grapes have the highest concentration of all fruits because of their unusually thick skins and numerous seeds, where this antioxidant is concentrated. Muscadine grapes are native to the southeastern part of the United States. They range in color from bronze to dark purple to black when ripe.

Compared to other grape seeds, muscadine grape seeds contain seven times the amount of resveratrol. Muscadine grapes contain more antioxidants than red wine grapes, pomegranates, cranberries or blueberries.

Other Food Sources. Resveratrol is also found in small amounts in peanuts, cocoa, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries. None of these offer substantial amounts; red wine may be the only food source that has sufficient amounts to have any beneficial effect — and then only if it's grown organically. Resveratrol is highly soluble in alcohol, meaning your body may absorb more of it from red wine than from other sources.

How to Get All the Benefits of Resveratrol

Supplements are Your Best Bet. Keep enjoying your red wine, but don't count on it if you're looking for the benefits of this antioxidant. A 5-ounce glass of organic red wine provides less than 1mg, depending on many factors, including growing conditions. As mentioned above, non-organic wines may not have any resveratrol in them at all — you just don't know. A handful of peanuts provides about 70 mcg. (that's .07 mg), not a significant amount.

Learn More About Resveratrol Supplements

Learn More About Bioflavonoids

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