You’ve heard the saying that French women don’t get fat. But have you heard that they typically have low rates of heart disease despite diets high in cholesterol and saturated fat? The French Paradox, as it’s known, may be related to the moderate consumption of alcohol that’s common in France. In particular, some experts believe that red wine (containing resveratrol) has cardioprotective benefits.
Plant compounds found in red wine called polyphenols may play an important role in heart health. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol. This dietary nutrient has antioxidant properties and is believed to help in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. Common sources of resveratrol include the skin of red grapes, some berries and peanuts.
Researchers have been studying the potential uses of resveratrol for years. Although most of the studies have been done in animals, and further research with humans is needed, this powerful antioxidant has promising potential. Here are just a few of the health benefits of resveratrol that make it an important dietary nutrient.
Resveratrol Can Protect Your Heart
Resveratrol’s antioxidant properties help it to reduce inflammation. It can be a “first line of protection against oxidative stress,” says this review in the Annals of New York Academy of Sciences. It can also be beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds up in your arteries.
Resveratrol Can Improve Circulation
A study published in the September 2013 Journal of Hypertension found that chronic resveratrol consumption improved circulation in obese but otherwise healthy adults. In a study of 28 subjects, resveratrol supplementation for six weeks resulted in a 23-percent improvement in flow-mediated dilation in the brachial artery when compared with a placebo. The brachial artery is a major blood vessel located in the upper arm. Resveratrol has also been shown to improve blood flow in the brain.
Resveratrol May Help Fight Obesity
In both animal and in vitro studies, resveratrol has shown exciting potential for fighting obesity. For example, in a study published in the June 2015 International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that resveratrol induced “fat browning” in mice. “Fat browning” refers to the development of brown-like adipocytes (fat cells) in white adipose tissue (WAT) and helps to reduce obesity.
Resveratrol Promotes Longevity
According to the Oregon State University Micronutrient Center, resveratrol has increased life spans of fruit flies, fish and mice fed a high-calorie diet. Resveratrol is thought by researchers to activate the SIRT1 gene, which helps promote longevity and a healthy weight. Some studies have shown that resveratrol mimics the effects of calorie restriction, which can slow the aging process.
Resveratrol May Inhibit Some Cancers
One of the most important potential uses of resveratrol is for cancer prevention and treatment. In both rodent studies and in vitro experiments with human cancer cells, resveratrol has been shown to “inhibit carcinogens in several organ sites.” That’s from an article in Cancer Prevention Research. Resveratrol has been shown to “inhibit the proliferation of a variety of human cancer cell lines, including those from breast, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreatic and thyroid cancers,” says information from Oregon State University.
So whether you are looking to stay young, improve your heart health and circulation, fight cancer, or maintain a healthy weight, take a cue from the French. Consider unlocking the antioxidant power of resveratrol in order to reap its multiple health benefits.