Resveratrol, a powerful plant compound, is found in high concentrations in dark pigmented foods, such as blueberries, cocoa, and red grape’s skin and seeds and red wine. But the benefits of resveratrol go far beyond the health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption.
It’s no joke, there really are health benefits to that glass of merlot you sip every now and then. It’s true!
What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a polyphenol phytonutrient with strong antioxidant activity in the body that regenerates tissues right down to the cellular level. It provides an array of impressive health benefits and has been proven to reduce the effects of aging. Plants produce antioxidants like resveratrol as a protective mechanism in response to stress, infection, or injury. We, in turn, consume them and reap these same benefits in our own tissues. Resveratrol is one of the most potent and effective polyphenols discovered to date. Its benefits were first discovered when research revealed longer life spans of organisms fed resveratrol compared to control groups.
What are the Health Benefits of Resveratrol?
Since these first modest discoveries, research surrounding the health benefits of resveratrol have exploded! Resveratrol has been shown to provide significant benefits for everything from cancer to heart disease to hormonal health.
1- Resveratrol Research for Cancer
There are few diagnoses that strike as much fear in our society as cancer. While evidence for resveratrol’s ability to combat existing tumors is limited and conflicting, there is good evidence for its ability to help prevent the development of tumors in the first place. Resveratrol anti-cancer effects result from maintaining cellular health and integrity by protecting cells against oxidative injury and damage and regulating the inflammatory response.
This oxidative stress and injury to cells is a significant contributing factor to the development of cancerous tumors. By protecting against oxidative stress and injury, resveratrol can help prevent the development of cancerous cells before they progress any further. Likewise, unchecked or dysregulated inflammation also contributes to a higher risk of cancerous cell growth. Regulating healthy inflammatory responses within the body can have a cancer protective effect. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to such a deadly illness!
And when it comes to fighting an existing tumor, it’s no secret that chemotherapy and radiation are hard and damaging to the body, even if they are necessary. Resveratrol’s powerful ability to protect tissues against oxidative damage resulting from these aggressive treatments can help prevent the development of compounding health issues often associated with their use.
2- Resveratrol Benefits for Heart Health
Resveratrol has shown great promise for helping protect heart and cardiovascular health. Its potent anti-inflammatory activity can help maintain the health and pliability of arterial walls, protecting against arteriosclerosis and lowering blood pressure.
These anti-inflammatory benefits to the cardiovascular system also include lowered LDL cholesterol levels and reduced risk of blood clots and heart attack, all risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Evidence for the circulatory benefits of resveratrol in humans is mounting as more research is conducted all the time. Resveratrol has the ability to boost nitric oxide levels and improve the function of endothelial cells, like those which line your blood vessels. Nitric oxide is very important for circulatory health as it relaxes blood vessels allowing for improved blood circulation and promoting healthy blood pressure levels.
3- Benefits for Brain Health
Brain health is crucial for our long-term health and well-being and is often a particular topic of interest for older adults. Unlike other antioxidants, resveratrol has the unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier making it a potent ally for protecting brain health.
In fact, not only can it cross the blood-brain barrier, but it can also restore the integrity of this important junction and promote increased blood flow to the brain.
Use of resveratrol to restore the blood-brain barrier helps protect the brain against rogue immune cells that would attack brain tissues in Alzheimer’s Disease patients. In this way, resveratrol reduces neural inflammation and can slow the cognitive decline associated with this devastating disease.
Research has also demonstrated positive memory benefits of resveratrol. By improving inflammation levels and neuron health, resveratrol significantly improves functional brain connectivity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory functions.
Neurotrophic factor is a protein that protects and enhances the growth and development of neurons and synapses in the brain. And guess what – resveratrol increases the level of this important protein in the brain! This improved brain function has led to markedly improved memory retention and scores in studies. Combine this with the neuroprotective effects of reduced free radical damage to tissues, including brain tissues, and you’ve got a powerful brain health booster. Regardless of age and stage of life, resveratrol can help protect and enhance brain health and function.
4- Benefits for Weight Loss
We all know that obesity is a significant health risk for a number of other serious health issues. Obesity is also at an all-time high in western society and is considered a public health crisis in America.
The causes of obesity are varied and nuanced, but resveratrol has proven to be an effective and helpful tool to combat unwanted excess weight regardless of the cause. Resveratrol supplementation has shown to reduce body weight, BMI, fat mass, and waist circumference while significantly increasing lean mass.
It is known that resveratrol has beneficial effects on fats in the blood (hence its positive effect on cholesterol), but it also has the ability to reduce body fat accumulation. When used in conjunction with a high fat diet, resveratrol has decreased body fat and improved lifespan in animal models.
It has also been found to improve glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in the blood, making it an important consideration for those struggling with weight gain related to diabetes or prediabetes.
There is some evidence to suggest that resveratrol also acts on a deeper level to modulate the expression of certain genes responsible for weight control, inflammation response, and insulin regulation.
5- Benefits for Women’s Health
Resveratrol provides numerous benefits for women’s health. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal issues affecting women and is a leading cause of female infertility. PCOS impacts an estimated 5-6 million women in the United States alone.
Elevated levels of testosterone are a common cause or contributing factor to PCOS. Resveratrol’s ability to support health hormone levels in the body has been shown to significantly lower levels of testosterone in women with PCOS, as well as androgenic precursors to testosterone.
Insulin resistance is another common issue for women suffering with PCOS, which resveratrol can also improve, reducing diabetes disease risk.
Hormone balancing and estrogen dominance are prevalent concerns for women in this endocrine-disrupting world we live in. Estrogen is produced by the ovaries but also by fat tissue. Unlike ovarian estrogen, there is no regulatory feedback loop to limit the estrogen produced by fat tissue, which leads to increasingly imbalanced estrogen levels.
Resveratrol acts as a weak phytoestrogen, but it’s more than that. Resveratrol acts as both an agonist and antagonist on estrogen alpha receptors, depending on the cell types and presence of endogenous estrogens, making it an estrogen balancer. It binds to both alpha and beta estrogen receptors but has an exponentially weaker effect than estrogen itself. In some situations, resveratrol boosts the activity of estrogen and in others it blocks it.
With more women waiting until later in life to have children, resveratrol can provide fertility-enhancing benefits. As women age, free radical damage compromises egg quantity and quality which can make conceiving later in life challenging. Evidence shows that resveratrol with its powerful antioxidant properties supports healthy fertility and ovarian function, protecting against age-related fertility impairment. Good news for women looking to become mamas in their 30s and 40s.
The benefits of resveratrol for pregnancy include increased blood flow from the placenta to the fetus which can help reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy. It also helps support the metabolic health of the expectant mother and protects against metabolic syndrome.
While these benefits are appealing, there is concern about the effects of resveratrol on the pancreas of a developing fetus. Until more is known about these effects, expectant mothers should use resveratrol with caution during pregnancy.
6- Benefits for Men’s Health
Resveratrol is not just for the ladies. The benefits of resveratrol for men’s health are also impressive. Supplementation with resveratrol provides benefits to skeletal muscle development similar to that of endurance training by increasing performance tolerance, improved oxidative metabolism and increased cardiac function. Good news for those who don’t like endurance training. For those who appreciate the value of endurance training, combining the two results in significantly enhanced performance.
As men age, their testosterone levels decline. Effects of low testosterone can include negative effects on sexual function, decreased strength and muscle mass, increased body fat and fatigue, weak bones, loss of body hair, hot flashes and swelling in breast tissue. Resveratrol, with its anti-aging and hormone-supporting effects, can help slow and even reverse this process. Studies have found that blood testosterone levels can be improved by as much as 50% in just a month by supplementing with resveratrol.
Resveratrol’s benefits for prostate cancer is another health perk for men. Research has shown that resveratrol may reduce prostate cancer growth by interfering with the cells’ ability to reproduce and proliferate and inducing cancer cell death. By interfering with RNA replication in cancer cells, resveratrol inhibits cell viability, migration, and invasiveness while increasing the effects of other tumor suppressants found in the body.
7- Benefits for Skin Health
Our skin is the largest organ in the body, and everyone wants theirs to be beautiful and youthful looking. Resveratrol is often included in topical skin applications for its anti-aging effects. It helps protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radical damage and environmental influences that contribute to signs of aging like lines and wrinkles and discoloration. It can rejuvenate a dull complexion and soothe and minimize redness and offer protection from UV damage. Resveratrol supports the growth of healthy skin cells and improved cellular function. It works hand-in-hand with other skin-enhancing nutrients, like biotin and collagen, to promote healthy skin structure. The benefits of resveratrol combined with ferulic acid, another powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage, can have a powerful positive effect on skin health and anti-aging.
8- Benefits for Hair Loss
In conjunction with its benefits for skin health, resveratrol can help reduce hair thinning and loss. Hair follicles are found in the skin. Poor skin health will lead to poor hair follicle health. By supporting healthy skin, resveratrol helps ensure healthy hair follicles that function optimally. Resveratrol’s ability to improve circulation and blood flow is also good news for your hair and hair follicles. Optimal blood flow to hair follicles helps protect the health of those follicles and supports their ability to grow healthy hair.