Resveratrol is present in skin and seeds of more than 70 different plant species, including grapes, berries, grains, tea, and peanuts. In the presence of an enzyme (resveratrol synthase), the phytochemical resveratrol is synthesized in response to environmental stress such as heavy metal ions, injury, fungal infection, or UV irradiation. It constitutes one of the primary components in red wine and is claimed to be an essential factor in the French Paradox, a term frequently used to summarize the observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats.
Here are just some of the benefits associated with resveratrol:
- It protects against oxidative stress; inflammation; and the development of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- It’s anti-aging in that it is effective in inhibiting or reversing some of the effects of aging like osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and mental processes decline.
- It’s been demonstrated to be effective in the prevention and treatment of various cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer.
- It activates certain metabolic pathways, which produces an anti-hypertensive effect and decreases the risk of heart disease, including congestive heart failure.
- It improves cognitive function by increasing production of insulin-like growth factor-I (growth hormone) in the memory center (hippocampus) of the brain, which improves memory.
- Given in a high fat diet, it has proved to be effective in elevating the brain’s antioxidant capacity — decreasing oxidative stress and cell death in this all-important organ.
- It combats obesity, as it can cause the death of fat cells and enhance mitrochondrial function — which can improve metabolism.
- It helps bones, synergizing with Vitamin D for bone health and increasing bone cells by redirecting stem cells from becoming fat cells.
Sounds pretty great, right? And, studies have not revealed any major side effects associated with taking resveratrol. There are some contradictions, however, so you should speak to your doctor before starting this supplement — especially if you are anemic; take medications that change the liver or slow blood clotting; or use antihistamines, erectile dysfunction medications, anti-viral or anti-fungal medications, or herbal supplements.
You’ll also want your physician to weigh in on the dosage you should be taking — because high doses can be potentially harmful. And, you may want to follow a high fat diet, which can help deliver resveratrol to different parts of the body and increase its effectiveness.