Gastronomy, Vinification, Science, and Your Health All Intersect at Resveratrol
Gastronomy, Vinification, Science, and Your Health All Intersect at Resveratrol
The benefits of red wine, the unlikely raspberry, and yes, the tannin-rich orange wines, too.
By Mark Zuleger-Thyss
If your home-entertaining arsenal of wines includes the astringently sizzling taste of orange wines, you might also like your cheeses aged longer than you have been alive. More cerebral than epicurean, orange wines are higher in Resveratrol than whites. But it’s the red wines that will give you the highest levels of antioxidants you need to stay healthy. Red wines can help you achieve the some-odd 20 benefits of drinking this ageless elixir.
Cultures around the world have been drinking wine since ancient times. The first known evidence of wine dates to 6000 B.C. in the country of Georgia. But it was scientists in the 1970s who found that the wine-loving French were enjoying better health. They had lower levels of heart disease despite their fondness for eating more cheese and other rich, fatty foods - saturated fats. And there it was, a clear relationship, well, observationally really, between moderate wine consumption, particularly red wine, and heart disease. The polyphenols theoretically explain wine’s heart-protecting properties.
If you are a health-conscious lush, what should you believe? Wine causes cancer? Wine will save you, or wine will kill you? Enter serious wine science: in 1991, Morley Safer unleashed news of “The French Paradox.” Thanks to a compound in wine called Resveratrol, the snobs and even the hoi polloi of France were keeling over far less often than their non-tippling counterparts. And it isn’t only the reds; drinking whites, and the now faddish and acrid-smacking orange wines, too, will keep your heart pumping for years to come. Did we mention raspberries? Well, blackberries, strawberries, and apples are all rich in Resveratrol, too.
What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring plant compound that acts as an antioxidant, a particular type called phytoalexin. It is believed to convey certain health benefits. Resveratrol is thought to ward off aging, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and it even has positive effects on your cardiovascular system.
Resveratrol is produced in red grape skins, cacao beans, peanuts, pistachios, various berries, like blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and soy and Japanese knotweed. The plants these foods come from make Resveratrol to fight fungal infection, ultraviolet radiation, stress, and microbial attacks found in unfriendly environmental conditions.
Resveratrol is well absorbed by humans, but bioavailability is low. If you are thinking about taking resveratrol supplements for your health, you should be aware of mild side effects, including gastrointestinal discomforts such as nausea and diarrhea.
Resveratrol from Grapes - Soothes Inflammation
Resveratrol is an active herbal ingredient found in grapes and fruits like berries. It is a part of a group of compounds called polyphenols associated with a host of positive health effects. Polyphenols are thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage. A recent study has now shown that Resveratrol supplements can also help against inflammatory diseases. The study was published in Phytotherapy Research, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal that reviews medicinal plant research.
More specifically, Phytotherapy Research conducted a meta-analysis of clinical trials to assess the role of Resveratrol in lowering C-reactive protein and high-sensitivity CRP levels, as markers of inflammation in a variety of disorders.
Improve Your Health - Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant
Forget the wine-label jargon unless you are a self-rationalizing boozehound, wine connoisseur, or sommelier. When searching for an excellent nutritional supplement containing Resveratrol, you don’t need to know about appellation, the French term premier cru, or the word “cuvée.” Many good Resveratrol supplements can help with the following health concerns.
- Lowering blood pressure – by reducing the stress in the artery walls.
- Supporting healthy blood sugar levels – by increasing insulin sensitivity, which can lower blood sugar levels while preventing complications from diabetes.
- Easing joint pain – by protecting the cartilage from deterioration, which is the main symptom of arthritis.
- Supporting longevity – by neutralizing free radicals, preventing them from damaging cells in the body.
- Lowering cholesterol – by lowering LDL or bad cholesterol, making it harder for blood clots to form.
- Protecting the brain – by helping to obstruct the protein fragments called beta-amyloids, which form plaques that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Assisting in fighting cancer - by reversing multidrug resistance in cancer cells. Used in combination with cancer drugs, Resveratrol can sensitize cancer cells to standard chemotherapeutic agents.
The Wine Route: Which red wines are the healthiest?
OK, so you ARE a tippler, and you choose to go with responsibly swilling the juice of the grape. Here are the reds that contain the most significant amounts of Resveratrol. With their brief descriptions we include gastronomical comments and details found in the world of vinification.
- Malbec - These grapes have notoriously thick skin, meaning they contain an abundance of antioxidants.
- Pinot Noir - This gem is cultivated in virtually all wine regions around the world. It contains a substantial quantity of beneficial antioxidants such as Resveratrol and the initial fermentation process yields a relatively low sugar count.
- Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most common grape varieties on the planet. The contents of cabernet sauvignon trigger the propagation of an essential protein known as an amyloid precursor protein (APP). This protein is believed to perform many complex tasks including synaptic formation and repair, somatic recombination, anterograde neuronal transport, iron export, and hormonal regulation.
- Petite Syrah - The grapes in this wine generate an enormous quantity of tannins, which act as antioxidants. They protect wines from the destructive effects of air exposure. Containing a host of polyphenols such as Resveratrol and other essential compounds, petite syrah wine is equipped with many medicinal benefits.
Back to the Science - Inflammation levels are effectively reduced by Resveratrol supplementation.
The scientific evidence of positive health benefits through Resveratrol has been significantly expanded in recent years. For example, leading research work has examined a possible application in cancer therapy. This research has also provided evidence of an effect against cardiovascular diseases. However, clinical studies that clearly confirm these effects have so far been lacking.
A total of 35 clinical studies were included in the evaluation, and the data analysis showed that resveratrol supplementation significantly reduced the hs-CRP and CRP values in blood serum. The data clearly demonstrated that taking a minimum dose of 500mg per day for ten weeks or more successfully lowered these values in inflammatory diseases.
The FDA’s Axe – Supplements under threat
Resveratrol, a plant-derived polyphenol, could be eliminated in supplement form like pyridoxamine (B6) was a few years back. The FDA has backchannels allowing Big Pharma to turn supplements into drugs.
This anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and life-extending supplement has been available as a supplement for years. Were Big Pharma to ask the FDA to remove resveratrol, the agency’s job of eliminating these supplements would be made easy. This is especially true when the FDA gets the “mandatory filing” requirement that is needed.
A drug company could petition the FDA to remove resveratrol supplements from the market at any time. Pyridoxamine, a form of B6, is an example of these tactics in play. It still isn’t available as a supplement even though no drug ever came to market.
Resveratrol - Promising medical potential
Since Resveratrol supplementation produces such positive effects on inflammatory diseases, more studies will be conducted for various other conditions. So far, polyphenols have proved themselves to having "vaso-relaxing effects on the coronary micro-vessels." The epidemiological evidence for these benefits does show a very strong causal connection.
Applications against cancer, inflammation and the cardiovascular system make this herbal compound particularly interesting for medicine.
Alcohol – Detractors, Dangers, and Reservations?
Alcohol is a substance that is commonly abused. Never forget that alcohol, even a small amount every day over time, can develop a dependence. Certain individuals should abstain from drinking alcohol if:
- You take medications
- You have a strong family history of alcoholism
- You have pancreas or liver disease
- You have a weak heart or heart failure
- You are pregnant
If you enjoy wine because it’s delicious and comforting, limit yourself to drinking it in moderation. In 2015, The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended 5 ounces (which equals one serving) of wine if it is part of a healthy dietary pattern.
Food as Medicine
Do what you will, forget the science, gastronomy, and wine terms like malolactic fermentation and biodynamic indigenous grapes. Eat all grapes, dark chocolate, pistachio nuts, cranberries and blackberries, and Japanese knotweed (whatever that is). Or just guzzle a good Pinot Noir. Know they are all good as food as medicine.
© 2021 Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing. All rights reserved.