Brianna Sommer MS, RDN, LDN May 25, 2021 2:08:18 PM

Should You Add Resveratrol to Your Diet?

Have you heard that red wine is good for heart health? If so, you’re hearing about the effects of a plant compound known as resveratrol.

  • Resveratrol works as an antioxidant in the body and is commonly found in grapes, blueberries, cranberries, red wine, and peanuts.
  • Beyond being a healthful part of certain foods, resveratrol supplements have been linked to many health benefits when used in high amounts like defending the heart and brain.

In this article, you will find information that will help you decipher whether or not to add resveratrol to your diet.

Resveratrol Benefits: Heart & Brain Health

As age increases blood pressure typically rises as arteries stiffen. When blood pressure is high, the risk for heart disease intensifies.

Because resveratrol has antioxidant effects, it may lower blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to relax and allow blood to flow more freely.

Resveratrol may also help slow down age-related cognitive decline and interfere with Alzheimer’s disease formation. This could partly be due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol.

 

What about Red Wine?

In moderation, red wine has been shown to have heart-healthy benefits. Resveratrol is most concentrated in the skins and seeds of grapes, which are components of the red wine fermentation process rendering it especially high in resveratrol.

Mid section of bartender pouring red wine on glass in bar counter As one of many plant compounds in wine, resveratrol can be helpful in protecting the heart by preventing damage to blood vessels, reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and preventing blood clots.

Additionally, red wine has been connected to lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and delaying age-related memory loss. Although red wine has its benefits, it is important to drink alcohol in moderation – 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.

It is not recommended to start drinking in hopes of preventing heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease, especially if you have a family history of alcohol addiction.

 

Supplementing Resveratrol

Though grapes, red wine, blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts are food sources high in resveratrol, their contents are too low to meet the recommended goal of 500 mg per day.

This would equate to eating about 400 cups of red grapes! Dietary supplements can help make up for what cannot be obtained through food.

 

Choosing Dietary Supplements

When adding a supplement into your daily routine, understanding what characteristics to look for is imperative. Choose supplements that are ConsumerLab.com-approved, NSF-certified, and/or USP-verified.

These certifiers independently test products to confirm that dietary supplements contain the ingredients stated on the label, in the stated amounts, and meet acceptable limits for suspected or known contaminants.

Meeting these standards will ensure that you are purchasing a supplement that has been tested for quality and safety.

Resveratrol Supplement Characteristics
  • Contents – resveratrol supplements are often made up of red wine extract, red grape extract, and/or the Asian herb Polygonum cuspidatum.
  • Standard Dosing – most resveratrol supplements contain 75-350 mg of “pure” resveratrol with a goal dose of 500 mg per day.
  • Frequency & Duration – depending on the brand, supplements can be taken up to 1-2 times per day with or without food.
  • Do Not Exceed – taking over 1,000 mg of resveratrol supplements per day can result in gastrointestinal upset.


Risks & Contraindications

Little to no major risks are connected with resveratrol supplements in healthy people. However, if you are taking anticoagulating medications, blood-thinning pain relievers (such as NSAIDs or aspirin), blood pressure medications, anxiety medications or immunosuppressants, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, a doctor should be consulted prior to trying resveratrol supplements. Resveratrol supplements are not suitable for children.

Recommendations Based on Genetics

If your genetic report shows that you have gene variants for APOB or SOD2 present, then increasing your daily consumption of resveratrol to 500 mg is something to consider:

  • APOB makes apolipoprotein B, the building block of many lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are proteins that transport fat in the blood. When the gene variant is present in APOB, higher levels of LDL cholesterol may be seen in the blood. Resveratrol works to help decrease the oxidation of LDL cholesterol through its antioxidant abilities. LDL cholesterol oxidation can contribute to plaque buildup in artery walls.
  • SOD2 makes the only enzyme that can eliminate superoxide radicals, which can damage proteins, fats, and DNA. When the gene variant is present in SOD2, it results in a plethora of diseases over time, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, respiratory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney disease. Resveratrol works to neutralize and prevent the build-up of superoxide radicals that can contribute to the development of the above diseases.

 

Main Takeaways

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant-like compound that has been shown to provide protection to the heart and brain.

The compound can be increased in your diet by consuming grapes, grape juice, peanuts, blueberries, and cranberries or by choosing red wine when drinking alcohol.

However, food sources are relatively low and will not get you to the recommended 500 mg of resveratrol per day. Supplementation of resveratrol has shown to have many health benefits in high amounts but is slightly more difficult for your body to absorb when compared to food sources.

A blend of foods high in resveratrol and dietary supplements may be beneficial for those looking to improve heart and cognitive health, especially for those with APOB & SOD2 gene variants.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Further, the products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

References:

Mayo Clinic Staff. Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart? Mayo Clinic Website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281. Published October 22, 2019. Accessed November 8, 2019.

Higdon et al. Resveratrol. Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center Website. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/resveratrol. Published 2005. Updated June 11, 2015. Accessed November 10, 2019.

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ConsumerLab.com. Product reviews: Resveratrol supplements review (grape, red wine, and polygonum sources). ConsumerLab.com Website. https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Resveratrol_Review/Resveratrol_Red_Wine/. Published October 8, 2016. Updated September 28, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2019.

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Pace-Asciak et al.The red wine phenolic trans-resveratrol and quercetin block human platelet aggregation and eicosanoid synthesis: Implications for protection against coronary heart disease. Clin Chim Acta. 1995;235(2):207-19.

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Brianna Sommer MS, RDN, LDN

Brianna is a registered dietitian nutritionist. Her professional interests include nutrition communications, digestive health, intuitive eating, and overall health promotion in both clinical and non-traditional settings. She enjoys incorporating client-centered and non-diet approaches in education and counseling sessions to help her patients meet their nutrition goals.

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