What is Resveratrol? What does it mean for heart disease?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Resveratrol is a plant substance - polyphenol - that fights certain diseases. In the plant world, plants must withstand fungus, extreme temperatures and insects. Plants produce antibiotics called phytoalexins. Resveratrol is a phytoalexin plants use to fight off disease and repair damage.


    What are the functions of Resveratrol?


    Many of the functions of resveratrol have a direct impact on heart disease and/or your risk of developing heart disease. Resveratrol functions include:


    • Decreased platelet stickiness (means decreased platelet aggregation & clotting)
    • Reduced LDL cholesterol oxidation
    • Promotes phase II detoxification enzymes (increase removal of toxins from the body)
    • Inhibition of COX-2 enzyme induction (can result in decreased inflammation)
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Phytoestrogen (can reduce risk of some cancers)
    • Antioxidant
    • Role in Alzheimer's disease prevention

    Antioxidants are especially important as we strive to prevent heart disease. Antioxidants slow and prevent the oxidation of cells. For example, it is the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that begins the formation of plaque within artery walls. Oxidation causes stress and cell damage that reduces a cells ability to function properly, eventually leading to cell death. By consuming a diet high in antioxidants, such as resveratrol, you promote decreased oxidation and cell health.

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    What are sources of Resveratrol?


    If you drink red wine, you have probably heard about resveratrol since red wine is a well known source for this nutrient. Additional sources include grape skins, mulberries, peanuts, cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate.


    Resveratrol content of grapes and red wine varies greatly depending on the grape variety, between 0.2 and 5.8 mg/L. For both grapes and mulberries, the highest concentration of resveratrol tends to be in the skin.


    Peanut content of resveratrol varies between 2.3 to 4.5 ug/g prior to sprouting and 11.7 to 25.7 ug/g after sprouting.


    Cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate have low levels of resveratrol, between 0.35 to 1.85 mg/kg.


    How much Resveratrol?


    Current recommendations are to consume 20 to 40 milligrams daily. Keep in mind that resveratrol should be stored in a cool, dry place to reduce oxidation of the nutrient.


    Should you supplement Resveratrol?


    I'm not sharing this information on resveratrol so you add another supplement to your daily regimen. I'd rather you take this information as reinforcement on the importance of eating a well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of heart healthy foods. Depending on your individual heart condition, a resveratrol supplement may or may not be beneficial.


    You may also be interested in the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.

Published On: November 12, 2011