Resveratrol, a compound found primarily in red wine, is a naturally occurring antioxidant.
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Studies have found that in moderation red wine, which contains resveratrol, lowers risk of death from heart disease. Its antioxidant activity and effect on platelets leads some researchers to believe that it is the protective agent in red wine.
Preliminary studies have found that people who drink red wine, which contains resveratrol, are at lower risk of death from heart disease. Because of its antioxidant activity and its effect on platelets, some researchers believe that resveratrol is the protective agent in red wine.1 , 2 , 3 Resveratrol research remains very preliminary, however, and as yet there is no evidence that the amounts found in supplements help prevent atherosclerosis in humans.
An 8-ounce glass of red wine provides approximately 640 mcg of resveratrol, while a handful of peanuts provides about 73 mcg of resveratrol. Resveratrol supplements (often found in combination with grape extracts or other antioxidants) are generally taken in the amount of 200–600 mcg per day. This is far less than the amount used in animal studies to prevent cancer: equivalent to more than 500 mg (500,000 mcg) per day for an average-sized human. Therefore, one should not assume that the small amounts found in supplements or food would necessarily be protective. The optimal level of intake is not known.
While a moderate intake of red wine may protect against heart disease, the optimal amount required to produce this effect is still unknown. Due to the risks involved with drinking alcohol, drinking red wine cannot be recommended as a means of preventing heart disease until more information is known.
Resveratrol is present in a wide variety of plants—of the edible plants, mainly in grapes and peanuts.4 Wine is the primary dietary source of resveratrol. Red wine contains much greater amounts of resveratrol than does white wine, since resveratrol is concentrated in the grape skin and the manufacturing process of red wine includes prolonged contact with grape skins. Resveratrol is also available as a dietary supplement.
Since it is not an essential nutrient, resveratrol is not associated with a deficiency state.
1. Bertelli AA, Giovanninni L, Bernini W, et al. Antiplatelet activity of cis-resveratrol. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22(2):61-3.
2. Chen CK, Pace-Asciak. CR. Vasorelaxing activity of resveratrol and quercetin in isolated rat aorta. Gen Pharm 1996;27(2):363-6.
3. Pace-Asciak CR, Rounova O, Hahn SE, et al. Wines and grape juices as modulators of platelet aggregation in healthy human subjects. Clin Chim Acta 1996;246(1-2):163-82.
4. Soleas GJ, Diamandis EP, Goldberg DM. Resveratrol: A molecule whose time has come? And gone? Clin Biochem 1997;30:91-113.
Last Review: 07-08-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
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