How would you like for your doctor to tell you that to help you stay healthy, you will need to start having a glass of red wine with your dinner and eating chocolate daily?
You may have heard the word by now: resveratrol. It is a natural compound found in grapes (and red wine), cocoa powder/dark chocolate, and other natural foods. Resveratrol is produced by some fruits and other crops when they come under attack in the field by parasites like bacteria and fungi.
Resveratrol has gotten a lot of media coverage in recent years; many studies have been conducted in different countries, mostly on mice, rats and other animal species, but some have been done on humans also.
A number of studies on non-human species have shown and confirmed that resveratrol offers a long list of health benefits, both real and potential. It has been found to protect against various cancers, including melanomas; suppress tumors in the gastrointestinal tract; have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help prevent many conditions, including arthritis; promote circulatory health by discouraging platelet aggregation; increase testosterone levels and stimulate sperm production (in male rats); have antiviral properties.
Human trials, while fewer, have also been conducted in about the last decade, and they have replicated some of the health benefits encountered in animal studies. For humans, the benefits that have been attributed to resveratrol so far include: speeding metabolism, thereby helping to maintain proper weight and guard against obesity; anti-cancer properties; promoting cardiovascular health; helping to guard against Alzheimer’s disease.
With all the attention that resveratrol has been getting, many companies now sell supplements for people to take. But if you want to get your resveratrol the natural way, these are the foods that contain it:
- Red wine. Resveratrol is primarily found in grape skins; because red wine is fermented with the skins, it has much more resveratrol content than white wine, which is fermented without the skins. Resveratrol concentrations can vary greatly, depending on grape variety and crop region; grapes grown in colder climates are said to have more resveratrol than those grown in warmer regions
- Grapes and grape juice, especially red grapes. Red grape juices, however, have only about half the concentration of resveratrol as red wines; some reports suggest that the wine-making process may help convert compounds in the grapes into resveratrol. In addition, organic crops are found to have higher levels of resveratrol, because they’re not sprayed with pesticides (therefore, the crop has to produce more resveratrol to fight off pathogenic organisms)
- Berries, including blueberries and cranberries
- Cocoa powder and dark chocolate (buy organic when available)
- Peanuts and peanut butter (buy organic when available)
Who knew that good health could be so tasty?
The only cautionary note is that as far as wine, one glass for women and two for men have been found in many studies to promote good health; but overimbibing of course cancels out health benefits and contributes to adverse health conditions.
By Lisa Pecos