You’ve probably heard about the “French Paradox” – the fact that French have a high intake of fatty food, yet in general have a good cardiovascular health. A possible explanation could be the red wine consumption. More specifically the compound found in red wine called Resveratrol.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound (phenol) found in grape skins, red onions, red wine, peanuts and some herbs. Certain plants produce Resveratrol when attacked by bacteria or fungi. This explains why red wine is a rich source of Resveratrol – fermentation process causes grapes to produce it.

It is an anti-ageing compound, which may decelerate cellular ageing process and could increase health and longevity. Calorie restriction diet with a right level of nutrients has been proven to increase the lifespan. It appears that Resveratrol supplements pose the same benefits on health and lifespan as calorie restriction, without  the need for food reduction, e. g. improved insulin sensitivity, blood sugar balance and mitochondria function.  Despite the fact that anti-aging studies of Resveratrol have not been performed on humans, it is proven to aid with age related degenerative diseases, thus supporting the theory of its positive effect on longevity.

As mentioned above, Resveratrol also supports cardiovascular health due to its antioxidant activity and its ability to prevent platelet aggregation. It also helps to maintain a healthy blood circulation, reduces inflammation and possess anti-viral properties. Resveratrol also shown to shrink certain types of tumors in carcinogen treated mice.

Drinking red wine and eating grapes might not be enough to experience the whole potential of Resveratrol.  To increase supplement bioavailability is it  recommended to take a minimum of 250mg per day for a noticeable results and it may be taken up to a maximum amount of 5g a day (if one can afford it). Care must be taken when buying Resveratrol supplements. Many brands produce it from Japanese Knotweed plant which contains emodin. Emodin is safe in moderate quantities, but does have a laxative effect in high amounts and in some less pure Resveratrol supplements there are up to 50% of emodin. One way to check for purity is to break the capsule – the extract should be clear, not cloudy or yellow. You have to buy the product to perform this test though, so the best way to make sure you get he right product is to do your research on brands and not buying cheaper versions – from my experience with supplement, most times you really get what you pay for.

Good food sources are: muscat grapes (especially skin and seeds), red wine (in moderation!), mulberries, red grape juice, raw peanuts and raw peanut butter and unprocessed cocoa powder.

There are no known adverse effects of Resveratrol, but high doses are not recommended to anyone with existing low blood sugar levels. Resveratrol may also interfere with contraceptive pills and not recommended to pregnant women or anyone under the age of 18.

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