Chances are you’ve heard that red wine is good for the heart. But you may not know what’s in the wine that provides protection.
Red wine contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Most notably, a compound called resveratrol.
The hype surrounding resveratrol started in 1992, with the so-called “French Paradox.”
This term described a phenomenon observed in French people. They appeared to have lower rates of heart disease, despite eating a diet rich in fat. Scientists attributed this to the moderate consumption of red wine, which is rich in resveratrol (1).
The health benefit of resveratrol is not limited to the heart. In fact, it is linked to multiple health-promoting effects, making it one of the most widely studied plant compounds.
Some of these favorable effects include anti-inflammatory (10,11), anti-aging (12), anti-bacterial (13), anti-viral (13), cardioprotective (14) and neuroprotective (1).
It is important to note that research in humans is limited and further research is needed to confirm these benefits.
An exciting area of ongoing research is with the resveratrol-weight loss connection. Scientists are still trying to understand the exact mechanisms by which resveratrol carries out its beneficial effect on metabolism and weight.
Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol found in over 70 plant species.
This antioxidant is produced in certain plants including grapes, apples, peanuts, soy, and blueberries. It is also found in products derived from these plant foods, such as red wine.
A major challenge for the drug industry is due to the poor solubility and bioavailability of resveratrol.
What we do know is that there are two chemical structures of resveratrol: cis and trans. Trans-resveratrol is the more bioavailable form, which means it’s easier for the body to absorb and utilize.
Scientists are working on more effective delivery strategies to enhance the bioavailability (2). One strategy that is showing promise is direct absorption through the sublingual mucosa. In other words, absorption of the supplement under the tongue.
Calorie Restricting Effects
One theory supporting the resveratrol-weight loss link is that it has a calorie-restriction effect on the body (3, 6, 7). It is known that restricting calories can slow the rate of aging and delay the onset of numerous diseases, including obesity-related diseases.
A study at Harvard Medical School showed that resveratrol extended the lifespan of fat mice fed a high-calorie diet.
They also found that resveratrol reversed the negative effects of a high-calorie diet – some of which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases related to obesity (8).
Subsequent research has been mixed and is often contradictory with regard to the soundness of using resveratrol as a calorie restricting mimetic.
Sliming Down Effect
A review summarizing the effects of resveratrol on weight loss demonstrated that resveratrol intake significantly reduced weight, BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass, and significantly increased lean mass (9).
In animal models, resveratrol is reported to improve blood sugar control and prevent obesity (10).
Research on the resveratrol-weight loss effect shows promise but is mixed, especially with regard to humans.
How to Take Resveratrol
The safe window of resveratrol lies between 100 and 1,000 mg per day (4).
No adverse effects were associated in people taking 500 mg of resveratrol per day (5).
Higher does 2.5 to 5 g (2,500 to 5,000 mg) may result in mild to moderate gastrointestinal symptoms.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take resveratrol.
Where to Buy Resveratrol
Resveratrol can be found in health food stores and online. Just be sure to purchase supplements through a high-quality manufacturer.
There is a wealth of promising research regarding the health-promoting effects of resveratrol. Further research is needed to confirm these benefits.
In the meantime, resveratrol appears to be safe and well-tolerated in doses up to 1,000 mg per day. As always, check-in with your doctor before adding any new drug or supplement to your diet.
- Zhang, L. X., et al. (2021). Resveratrol (RV): A pharmacological review and call for further research. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 143, 112164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112164
- Li, L. (2021). Advance on the preparation, physiological function and nanocarriers of resveratrol. E3S Web of Conferences, 233, 02047. https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/202123302047
- Scapagnini, Giovanni et al. “Dose response biology of resveratrol in obesity.” Journal of cell communication and signaling vol. 8,4 (2014): 385-91. doi:10.1007/s12079-014-0257-3
- Vesely, Ondrej et al. “Enhancing Bioavailability of Nutraceutically Used Resveratrol and Other Stilbenoids.” Nutrients vol. 13,9 3095. 2 Sep. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13093095
- Sergides, Christakis et al. “Bioavailability and safety study of resveratrol 500 mg tablets in healthy male and female volunteers.” Experimental and therapeutic medicine vol. 11,1 (2016): 164-170. doi:10.3892/etm.2015.2895
- Timmers S, Konings E, Bilet L, et al. Calorie restriction-like effects of 30 days of resveratrol supplementation on energy metabolism and metabolic profile in obese humans. Cell Metab. 2011;14(5):612-622. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2011.10.002
- Baur JA, Sinclair DA. Therapeutic potential of resveratrol: the in vivo evidence. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2006;5(6):493-506. doi:10.1038/nrd2060
- Baur, Joseph A et al. “Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet.” Nature vol. 444,7117 (2006): 337-42. doi:10.1038/nature05354
- Tabrizi R, Tamtaji OR, Lankarani KB, et al. The effects of resveratrol intake on weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(3):375-390. doi:10.1080/10408398.2018.1529654
- Zhang LX, Li CX, Kakar MU, et al. Resveratrol (RV): A pharmacological review and call for further research. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021;143:112164. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112164
- Meng, Tiantian et al. “Anti-Inflammatory Action and Mechanisms of Resveratrol.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 26,1 229. 5 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/molecules26010229
- Zhou DD, Luo M, Huang SY, et al. Effects and Mechanisms of Resveratrol on Aging and Age-Related Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021;2021:9932218. Published 2021 Jul 11. doi:10.1155/2021/9932218
- Abedini E, Khodadadi E, Zeinalzadeh E, et al. A Comprehensive Study on the Antimicrobial Properties of Resveratrol as an Alternative Therapy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021;2021:8866311. Published 2021 Mar 16. doi:10.1155/2021/8866311
- N. Bostancıeri, H. Elbe, M. Eşrefoğlu & N. Vardı (2021) Cardioprotective potential of melatonin, quercetin and resveratrol in an experimental model of diabetes, Biotechnic & Histochemistry, DOI: 10.1080/10520295.2021.1918766
- Chung, Jay H et al. “Resveratrol as a calorie restriction mimetic: therapeutic implications.” Trends in cell biology vol. 22,10 (2012): 546-54. doi:10.1016/j.tcb.2012.07.004