Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols that can fight inflammation, boost testosterone and improve cardiovascular health. If you’ve ever heard of antioxidants being touted as healthy and beneficial to the body, polyphenols are exactly that. They’re micronutrients that are thought to bring many benefits to the body through antioxidant action (1).
Antioxidants, in general, have many benefits and have long been thought to help protect against cell damage by combatting “free radicals,” which are harmful waste particles produced by cells as a result of environmental stress. Oxidative stress has been connected to many harmful and chronic diseases, from Parkinson’s to arthritis (2).
Polyphenols are a naturally-occurring group of micronutrients, and they can be found mostly in foods that would typically be thought of as “healthy.” Some prime examples are apples, olive oil, and turmeric. In addition, red wine and chocolate also contain polyphenols (3).
That’s why you will occasionally hear red wine touted as a healthy drink to have at the end of the day. Resveratrol, in particular, can be found most commonly in red wine, grapes, berries and peanuts (4, 5).
1Resveratrol improves cardiovascular health. One of resveratrol’s most publicized and widely applicable benefits is its positive impact on cardiovascular health. In some studies, resveratrol has been shown to lower blood pressure, ease blood flow and lessen cardiovascular stress in general (6).
If you’ve ever heard someone say that drinking a glass of red wine every day is good for your heart, then now you know that resveratrol is the reason why.
Essentially, resveratrol can help your cardiovascular system respond to oxidative stress, which is a factor in such diseases. The exact method by which resveratrol works to reduce cardiovascular stress isn’t known, but there are several studies suggesting it regulates vascular cells, helps prevent LDL oxidation and platelet aggregation (lowers the risk of clots that lead to a heart attack) and lowers damage taken as a result of ischemia-reperfusion (9).
Some studies suggest that resveratrol and other polyphenols, while not exactly antioxidants themselves, act like signaling molecules (like a trigger) to increase nitric oxide bioavailability and induce protective enzymes (10).
In a 1992 study on cardiovascular disease in French populations, who have low rates of heart disease, the authors found that alcohol intake (primarily of red wine) may have been the determining factor in lowering the risk of mortality (11).
While the benefits of antioxidants, polyphenols, and resveratrol, in particular, are still being studied, there is significant evidence suggesting that resveratrol has a positive effect on many different kinds of cardiovascular disease. For the current moment, it’s more than a safe bet to assume that a glass of red wine really does have a chance of improving your heart health.
2Resveratrol could help prevent cancer or slow down its growth. Resveratrol has been showed to reverse drug resistance in cancer cells, making them more vulnerable to cancer treatments that previously weren’t effective enough. In addition, it may be able to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy treatments when used in combination with other drugs (12).
Moreover, a 2004 study showed that resveratrol may actually prevent carcinogen activation from working within your body or even be able to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors themselves (13).
In a 1997 study, resveratrol was found to act as an anti-inflammatory and an anti-mutagen during carcinogenesis. It induced drug-metabolizing enzymes; inhibited cyclooxygenase and hydroperoxidase, which are enzymes responsible for inflammation; and induced human promyelocytic leukemia cell differentiation (14).
This means that resveratrol could either block the growth of cancerous tumors, or it could impede the growth and metastasis of existing cancers.
Despite its relative success at halting the proliferation of human cancer cells in vitro, as well as numerous clinical trials involving rodents, further human clinical trials still need to establish results (15, 16).
In addition, the research that has been done on humans often uses extremely high doses from supplements (17). There’s still a research gap to be filled in terms of everyday resveratrol intake.
3Resveratrol can help lessen the effects of diabetes. With age, arteries become less flexible and more stiff, but that process is sometimes accelerated by diabetes, putting diabetic people at a higher risk of strokes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease.
Resveratrol may be able to slow down that aging process by activating a gene called SIRT1. In certain small scale studies, it improved aortic flexibility in diabetic people with preexisting high levels of aortic stiffness (18).
A 2011 study done on rodents found that resveratrol decreased blood glucose levels in animals with hyperglycemia as a result of increased intracellular glucose transport. It may also improve insulin action in some animals, or reduce insulin secretion in others (19).
It may even increase insulin sensitivity by enhancing adiponectin levels (20).
A systematic review published in 2017 found evidence that resveratrol supplementation could concretely benefit type II diabetes mellitus. Resveratrol could help glucose homeostasis and reverse insulin resistance in type II diabetes (21).
4Resveratrol might help prevent or treat age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s. The same way that resveratrol targets the gene named SIRT1 to aid diabetic people, resveratrol could also be helpful for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. When resveratrol activates this gene, it mimics a process called caloric restriction to prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s. A 2017 study showed that resveratrol helped preserve the blood-brain barrier and modulate the central nervous system’s immune response (22).
Another prominent study from 2016 seems to indicate that resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties could also be a factor in reducing damage from Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the brain. Resveratrol increased levels of a compound linked to an adaptive immune response, which would remove neurotoxic proteins from the brain. It also strengthened the blood-brain barrier, which prevents proteins from entering the brain (23).
5Resveratrol can help with weight loss. We already established that resveratrol can aid in preventing diabetes by regulating insulin levels. The fact is, resveratrol’s effect on the way your body absorbs and stores food could also be beneficial to those who are worried about their waistlines.
In animal trials, resveratrol was shown to help the body better regulate the storage of fat, reducing weight and adiposity in test animals (24).
6Resveratrol can help fight obesity and its related disorders. Resveratrol was shown to activate genes that increase energy usage and mitochondrial activity, while deactivating genes that cause your body to store fat (25).
Furthermore, resveratrol literally stopped cells from producing fat and triggered their death. Resveratrol might also block certain fat-producing or fat-enabling enzymes, leading to a similar combative effect against obesity (26).
7Resveratrol can also have a positive effect on gut health. Sometimes, the way your gut functions actually has an effect on your artery width and cardiovascular function. The microbiome, or the series of bacteria that flourish in your gut, play a large part in the way your body absorbs and stores food. By lowering bile production and increasing strains of certain bacteria, resveratrol balances your body’s digestive system out (27).
This brings a positive overall effect not only to what goes on in your stomach, but what goes on in your heart and blood vessels as well.
8Resveratrol can help increase muscle mass. A 2015 study done on fish showed that resveratrol increased body mass and induced muscle growth (28).
Furthermore, it seemed to reduce oxidative stress on the fish’s muscles, which means quicker recovery time and less soreness.
9Resveratrol may boost male sex hormones. In male rats, resveratrol increased testosterone and sperm count without any adverse effects. It activates the HPG – hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal – axis that controls sex hormone release from the hypothalamus via the pituitary in the brain. By balancing the response to estrogen, resveratrol affects reproductive health in both men and women.
10Resveratrol may reduce acne. In a clinical trial of 20 people with acne, a gel with resveratrol showed positive results over 2 months. It reduced acne severity by almost 70% and improved overall skin health by over 50% with no adverse effects. The team discovered that cosmetic products with resveratrol are stable and don’t degrade when kept in the fridge (at 4°C/40°F) (30).
11Resveratrol may boost bone density, strength, and overall bone health. Resveratrol activates the fat-burning pathway (SIRT1), which blocks genes that increase fat storage (PPAR gamma). This epigenetic shift causes stem cells to develop into bone-building cells, which may boost bone health (31).
1At higher doses of 2.5g, resveratrol can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and liver dysfunction in people who also have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (33). At short term doses of about 1.0g, it doesn’t seem to have any negative side effects. In addition, based on clinical trials, resveratrol still seems to be safe even when taken in amounts up to 5.0 grams, which is quite a large amount for a supplement (and not one we’d necessarily recommend taking on a daily basis) (34).
2Resveratrol does to some extent seem to prevent platelet aggregation, which is good for preventing coronary heart disease, but could also increase the risk of bruising or bleeding. People who already regularly take blood thinners, or who take NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, might be at a higher risk for bleeding and/or bruising when combined with resveratrol because of the combined effects (35).
If you regularly take one or more of these drugs, you should consult with your doctor before supplementing with resveratrol on the side.
3Resveratrol can also interact with certain niche kinds of drugs, though the effects aren’t yet well-studied. There are no notable mentions of interactions with other common, everyday drugs. Resveratrol is also known to interact with drug-metabolizing enzymes like Cytochrome P450 proteins, which could affect individuals who take drugs that also get metabolized by such proteins, like Tamoxifen, an established anti-breast cancer medication.
As it stands, it’s one of the most magical-sounding micronutrients that are a part of the conversation on supplements today. No major, long-term trials have said much about adverse effects. That said, there are most definitely some side effects, especially when resveratrol is taken in high does in supplement form as opposed to normally, through food and wine.
The lower end of supplementation tends to be for cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, and longevity for somebody who is otherwise unhealthy is 5-10mg daily. For persons who are otherwise healthy, dosages between the range of 150-445mg have been used (with no clear indication for what is the optimal dose).
Supplementing for cerebral blood flow requires a dose in the 250-500mg range whereas supplementation for aromatase inhibition requires 500mg as well.
What foods are high in resveratrol? It’s found in foods such as peanuts, pistachios, grapes, red and white wine, blueberries, cranberries, and even cocoa and dark chocolate. The plants from which these foods come from, make resveratrol to fight fungal infection, ultraviolet radiation, stress, and injury.
What are the benefits of resveratrol? Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage that can put you at higher risk for things like cancer and heart disease.
Does resveratrol increase testosterone? Yes, resveratrol has been shown to increase testosterone. One study concluded that blood testosterone concentration was improved by more than 50% following a 28-day period of resveratrol consumption.
Does Resveratrol help you lose weight? Research published in Nature showed that resveratrol protected mice from the harmful effects of a high-calorie diet, including heart disease, weight gain, and diabetes. Resveratrol appears to act on adiponectin, which is produced by our fat cells and helps us lose fat by improving our insulin sensitivity.
Which wine has the most resveratrol? Resveratrol is strongly associated with red grapes and the red wine made from grapes. Wines such as Malbec, Petite Sirah, St. Laurent and Pinot Noir have the highest resveratrol content. Malbec grapes have the thickest skin, and therefore the highest content of resveratrol.
Does resveratrol reverse aging? Researchers have also figured out which gene allows resveratrol to produce SIRT1, and believe that some drugs currently in clinical trials may be able to provide the same anti-aging benefits as well.
Does resveratrol increase estrogen? There is evidence from in vitro research that resveratrol might have estrogenic effects – it may boost the effects of estrogen in the body. Theoretically, resveratrol might have additive or antagonistic effects with herbs that have estrogenic activity.
Does resveratrol interfere with medications? Resveratrol can interact with blood clotting medications by making them less effective.
Does resveratrol lower cholesterol? Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevents blood clots.
Is resveratrol an anti-inflammatory? Yes, resveratrol can help to reduce inflammation. Resveratrol belongs to a group of compounds called polyphenols that are thought to act like antioxidants and protect the body against damage. It has long been considered a therapeutic agent for various diseases, including inflammatory diseases.
Is resveratrol good for your liver? Recent studies demonstrated that resveratrol has many therapeutic effects on liver disorders. It provides liver protection against chemical, cholestatic, and alcohol injury. Resveratrol can improve glucose metabolism and lipid profile and decrease liver fibrosis and steatosis.
Does resveratrol raise blood pressure? No, in fact, it does the opposite. Because of its antioxidant properties, resveratrol could be a promising supplement for lowering blood pressure.
Can resveratrol cause headaches? Resveratrol acts by enhancing endothelial vasodilator function, which has some professionals to suggest that resveratrol in red wine may be a cause of migraine.
Does white wine have resveratrol? White wine, made from the pulp of the grape but not the skin, contains no resveratrol.
You don’t need everything you eat to be rich in resveratrol, but keeping such foods as a regular part of your diet could have numerous positive health benefits: better cardiovascular health, less risk of heart disease, less risk of cancer, and protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,
It’s not particularly hard to find resveratrol in everyday foods and ingredients either. A simple glass of red wine at night or a bowl of grapes at work could be more than enough to give you the intake you need if you’re focused on staying healthy.
Red wine and dark chocolate are the two most commonly cited sources of resveratrol. It can also be found in many nuts and berries, like blueberries, and cranberries. You can even find some resveratrol in your peanut butter.
In case you’re wondering: even relatively high doses of resveratrol have been safe in clinical trials to date, so in most uses cases you don’t have to worry unduly about overdosing on this micronutrient. So far nobody has died from using it, though excessively high doses may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects.
If you’re concerned about your resveratrol intake, however, or if you’re avoiding alcohol, you can supplement with it instead to reap the same kinds of health benefits. No matter what form you take it in, resveratrol has been connected to some truly stunning effects on health, so it’s well worth your time, effort and expense.