You might have seen supplements in stores and nutrition shops called resveratrol or heard it mentioned in various programs or articles in newspapers or online.
What is reserveratrol exactly and is it something that can impact your health?
Red Red Wine
Resveratrol is a compound found primarily in red wine. The virtues of red wine have been preached about for centuries and it has a solidified place in human history.
There has always been the idea of the “French paradox” in that France had a high rate of saturated fat intake but low coronary heart disease and that could have been attributed to red wine consumption. And more recently the insights into the benefits of antioxidants has made red wine seen as a health drink of sorts.
What was it that was in red wine that studies were showing helped combat heart disease and protect the cells against the damage caused by aging and promote health?
Along with polyphenols it looks like it is resveratrol that can provide health benefits.
What Is Resveratrol?
Our body has natural ways of coping with stress. When it is not overwhelmed it has the ability to manage and cope on its own. Unfortunately we throw too many scenarios at it that make it hard to overcome.
Resveratrol which is found in the skins and seeds of dark grapes is able to activate a body response that is usually used to relieve stress. That is benenficial to most people as it is but resveratrol also is able to:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- promote longer life spans
- help in the fight of some cancers
These effects were studied by the Scripps Research Institute and they did observe the same findings in that resveratrol in red wine was able to create protective effects that aid in life span and overall health.
Why Red Wine?
Good question! Why can’t you just eat grapes or drink grape juice?
Red wine is red because during the fermentation process the skins of the grapes are left in for a long time. White wine can actually be made with dark grapes but because the skins aren’t involved for too long it is left a light color.
These skins, plus the long time spent fermenting, is what leads to the high polyphenol and resveratrol content which doesn’t occur from eating whole grapes. Grape juice also doesn’t spend time fermenting or in contact with the skins. Regarding resveratrol in supplement there is the concern that it is not absorbed by the body very well or at all.
This is where alcohol becomes a unique thing. A fruit juice left in its pure form may provide some nutrients and vitamins but fermenting something into alcohol creates a compound that not only make us send drunk texts but actually provides benefits to the heart, such as:
- Raising HDL (the “good cholesterol”)
- Reduces the formation of blood clots
- Helps prevent artery damage
- produces changes in blood pressure
How Much & Which Wine is Best?
This is where the moderation issue needs to be addressed. Through all the research on the benefits of red wine the idea of moderation is of utmost importance. In my opinion, and the American Heart Association would suggest you don’t just take up drinking as a way to prevent heart disease.
There are a clearly a lot of dangers that come from alcohol that go far beyond me trying to perform ‘Living on a prayer’ on Karaoke. The research suggest that you drink moderately or not at all.
To drink moderately means one drink a day and that is defined, in the case of wine, as a 5 ounce serving. This way you will be avoiding the harmful effects of alcohol but getting a serving size that will provide some health benefits.
Top choices for red wine will be the full bodied, high tannin wines. Tannin is an antioxidant, and also comes from the skins and seeds of the grapes. Tannins are what provide that full body mouth feel. It is that sensation where you can feel it in your cheeks and is basically what makes a red wine “dry”. Grapes grown in cooler climates have the highest resveratrol levels and your best bets for varieties are going to be:
- Madiran wine of south-west France
- Pinot Noir of pretty much every country and region
- petite sirah
Wrapping It Up
As mentioned before you don’t want to just jump into red wine drinking if you never have. The first thing you want to do is base your diet around real, whole foods primarily fresh organic vegetables, citrus fruits, healthy fats and nuts and seeds.
After these things are established along with regular exercise you can look into further benefits through red wine. If you find yourself consuming too much alcohol from beer or spirits this could be a good time to start to reduce your intake of those thing and replace them with red wine.
If I haven’t mentioned it enough before remember without moderate consumption the benefits of resveratrol and red wine become void.
Now if only those Facebook pictures of nights you spent out drinking too much could become void…