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Resveratrol is a powerful plant compound that many people have heard of — mostly in association with grapes and red wine. It has become well-known for promoting heart health, but you may be surprised at the number of other health-boosting benefits resveratrol has.
It supports your body from the inside out (like many plant compounds do) but also has some fantastic anti-aging properties when applied to skin.
Here’s more about resveratrol, the impressive ways it works within your body, and how to start getting more of it.
What Is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a type of plant compound known as a polyphenol. It acts as an antioxidant within your body, protecting against free radical damage and potentially reducing the risk of age-related diseases.
Interestingly, resveratrol is synthesized by plants as a protective compound. It’s known technically as a phytoalexin and is produced in response to “attacks” like UV radiation, fungal pathogens, and physical damage. Perhaps because of this, it also has protective effects within the human body.
So far, resveratrol has been found in about 70 different plant species, including some foods we commonly eat. Grapes have an especially high concentration, and researchers theorize this may be because grape vines are often attacked by fungal pathogens that might stimulate the production of resveratrol.
Of course, this powerful plant compound made the biggest splash in relation to red wine.
Researchers first discovered the potential health benefits of resveratrol by investigating what was dubbed the “French paradox.” This referred to the generally excellent heart health of the French despite a diet high in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
One theory was that their low incidence of heart disease came from the red wine frequently enjoyed with meals. This led to studies on the compounds in red wine, of which resveratrol became the focus, and the rest is history.
Years later, even more benefits have been discovered, and you don’t even have to drink red wine to get them.
Top Health Benefits of Resveratrol
Good for Your Heart
Let’s start with what brought resveratrol into the spotlight in the first place: heart health.
Studies have shown that it has a few significant positive effects on your heart. One of the biggest ones is improving cholesterol levels. It can help to lower total cholesterol, raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and potentially lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Other research has also shown that resveratrol has an “anti-atherosclerotic” effect, which means it may help protect against atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a buildup in your arteries that can eventually cause a rupture or blood clot. It puts major strain on your heart and is unfortunately a very common condition.
Even more studies suggest that resveratrol may be able to lower blood pressure. Humans trials are limited so far, but this could be big news for those who have hypertension (yet another risk factor for heart disease).
Of course, antioxidants in general help to protect heart health by combating oxidative stress. Eating more of them – and particularly resveratrol — is great for your heart as you age.
Protective of Brain Health
The rise of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia have made it very clear that brain health is a key piece of aging well. Your brain is what keeps you present and connected to life but function often declines as you get older.
Resveratrol could be one of the pieces to the puzzle of keeping your brain healthy. It has shown neuroprotective properties, in part because of its antioxidant activity, and may help to slow age-related cognitive decline.
Other research has also discovered that resveratrol may offer some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Most notably, it was shown to inhibit beta-amyloids, which are protein fragments linked to the development of Alzheimer’s.
May Be Helpful for Diabetes
Some exciting research has shown that resveratrol may have benefits for those with diabetes or prediabetes.
To start with, animal studies have shown that it can improve insulin sensitivity. This is important because resistance to insulin leads to increased blood sugar, which can eventually develop into type 2 diabetes.
There’s also evidence that it may slow the progression of diabetic nephropathy (also called diabetic kidney disease), which is a complication that can occur with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Resveratrol reduces inflammation and oxidative stress as well, which can both put you at a higher risk for diabetes.
Researchers say more studies are needed to determine resveratrol’s full potential for diabetes. However, preliminary clinical trials do show an effectiveness in diabetic patients so far.
Has an Anti-Aging Effect
Antioxidants could well be thought of as the greatest anti-aging compounds we know of. They protect your body from free radicals that can accelerate the aging process and contribute to many chronic diseases.
As a powerful antioxidant, resveratrol contributes its own anti-aging properties within your body. It also has a similar effect for your skin, which we’ll get into later.
But far from being just a generic anti-aging compound, resveratrol likely has some special benefits for longevity. One study found that it may activate a certain gene that helps ward off age-related diseases. Other research has shown that it increases the lifespan of certain animals.
Whether or not this translates to humans is still inconclusive, but it definitely warrants further exploration!
May Ease Arthritis Pain
Many antioxidants (quercetin, for example) have demonstrated a potential to help with pain management. This most likely comes from the ability of antioxidants to lower inflammation and reduce oxidative stress.
Resveratrol is another example of this and has so far shown the most promise for relieving arthritis pain.
One of the biggest symptoms of arthritis is the breakdown of cartilage. This is not only a problem in itself, it’s also responsible for a lot of the pain related to arthritis. Notably, resveratrol (as an injection) was able to significantly decrease cartilage damage in at least one animal study.
Other research indicates that it can reduce joint swelling and tenderness as well as disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers involved in the study even suggested that it should be considered as a therapy to be used alongside conventional treatment.
Fighting cancer is another of the potential benefits of resveratrol. It’s still considered “potential” because only lab and animal studies have been completed so far, but the results are very promising.
To date, resveratrol has shown an ability to fight multiple types of cancer cells: breast, colon, skin, gastric, and prostate. There’s also evidence that it may fight cancer at different stages, including tumor formation and progression.
This could prove to be important because many natural substances, including other antioxidants, can help to protect you from cancer but don’t necessarily fight it once it progresses.
Hopefully, these results can eventually be translated to human cancer treatment.
May Fight Obesity
When studying the effects of resveratrol on diabetes, researchers also discovered that it may be able to help prevent obesity.
Specifically, it helped prevent fat storage in animals (rodents) fed a high-calorie diet and also reduced body weight in already obese animals. This means resveratrol may be useful for losing weight as well as preventing obesity.
Of course, there’s a big jump from animal studies to human benefit, BUT it is worth noting that polyphenols already have a good body of research documenting their benefits for weight loss and obesity prevention. Resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol, seems to be jumping onto this list.
Best Food Sources of Resveratrol
Because resveratrol isn’t an essential nutrient, there’s no recommended daily value set for it. Some research suggests that getting low “doses” from food is more beneficial for overall health than taking it in concentrated form, but there’s no conclusive decision yet.
You can’t really get too much resveratrol from food, so feel free to fill up on these top sources to get its health benefits:
- Red Grapes– Resveratrol is most abundant in red grapes and is concentrated in the skin.
- Grape Juice– Red and purple grape juice are comparable to wine for resveratrol amount.
- Red Wine– The fermentation process may improve the availability of resveratrol, but don’t overdo it, since too much alcohol will harm your health.
- Raw Cocoa or Dark Chocolate– Cocoa contains about half as much resveratrol as a glass of red wine.
You can also get resveratrol from other plants foods (most notably berries) but in lesser amounts:
- Peanuts (look for organic as pesticide use is heavy on peanuts)
- Soy (look for organic or at least non-GMO)
In certain cases, you may want to try a more concentrated dose of resveratrol than you could get from food. For example, studies on diabetes have used 100 mg or more of resveratrol, and it would take about 100 glasses of red wine or grape juice to get that much.
One of the best resveratrol sources for supplements is Japanese knotweed. It contains trans-resveratrol, which is a more active form of the compound, and is easily grown without pesticides (it is a weed, after all).
Some research indicates that resveratrol may interact with blood thinners and other medications, but there are no other known side effects.
Of course, another excellent way to “take” resveratrol is through your skin…
Outstanding Benefits of Resveratrol for Skin
Fights Free Radicals
Resveratrol isn’t just good for the inner health of your body. Its antioxidant properties also give it some incredible anti-aging benefits for your skin.
First and foremost, resveratrol helps protect your skin from free radical damage. You may think of free radicals mainly as existing within your body, but they also target and attack skin cells. In fact, free radical formation may be more accelerated on your skin than anywhere else because it’s directly exposed to UV radiation, pollution, etc.
Free radical damage is one of the biggest instigators of skin aging. If your body doesn’t have enough antioxidants to cope with the free radicals, collagen starts to break down and your skin will look prematurely old.
By applying (and consuming) resveratrol, you help your body to neutralize free radicals before they cause harm.
Slows Skin Aging
By working at a cellular level to combat free radical damage, resveratrol has the ability to slow the appearance of skin aging (wrinkles, crow’s feet, under-eye bags, etc.).
Much of this has to do with a very important skin protein called collagen, which you’ve probably heard of. Collagen plays a large role in keeping your skin firm, plump, and wrinkle-free- basically youthful-looking.
One of the ways free radical damage affects your skin is by including the enzyme collagenase, which breaks down collagen. By combating free radicals, resveratrol helps slow this process and keeps your skin looking younger for longer.
Other research shows that resveratrol also helps to stimulate collagen production. This gives it even more power for slowing signs of aging!
Protects Your Skin
Your skin is exposed to all kind of stressors from the environment. One of the most notable is UV radiation from the sun, which accelerates skin aging and free radical formation. In fact, too much exposure to UV rays can cause cell damage, DNA damage, and skin cancer.
Antioxidants, including resveratrol, have powerful benefits for protecting against this kind of skin damage.
Studies have shown that resveratrol helps protect your skin at the cellular level from UV damage and slows photoaging in the process. (Photoaging refers to wrinkles, dark spots, etc. that come from UV exposure.)
Resveratrol may even help prevent skin cancer as well!
Hydrates and Brightens
One of the best aspects of resveratrol for your skin is that it has a powerful effect without being harsh. While many conventional anti-aging ingredients dry out skin, resveratrol actually helps to hydrate skin and keeps it from drying out.
It also has an anti-inflammatory effect that can make your skin look brighter and decrease the appearance of redness. In a skincare product, it will work to even out your skin tone, improving skin texture in the process.
Resveratrol “Supplement” for Age-Defying Skin
If you want to use the power of resveratrol to make your eyes look brighter and younger, look into the Age-Defying Eye Cream from Purity Woods.
It’s packed full of 100% USDA Certified Organic ingredients, including 20+ pure plant extracts. Resveratrol from smartweed extract is, of course, a star in the cream along with other powerful antioxidant and moisturizing botanicals.
As you know, antioxidants are key for every part of your skin, but they are especially powerful for dull- and tired-looking skin around the eyes. They are paired with carefully chosen moisturizers to keep your delicate skin nourished while the appearance of dark circles, bags, and fine lines fades away.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as a medical advice.