Resveratrol in Red Wine Not Such a Health-Booster?
Substance doesn't seem to protect people from heart disease, cancer, study says
The bottom line, according to Semba, is that dietary resveratrol didn't translate into fewer deaths, cancers or heart problems.
Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City, said, "A quick search of the medical literature finds that many of the current studies done with resveratrol have been done in test tubes or in animals. This study, in humans, seems to indicate that an increased consumption of foods that contain resveratrol, such as red grapes and wine, does not affect long-term health over nine years. It may be that the effects of dietary resveratrol are not evident in this time period."
Resveratrol is famous for giving the green light to people who want to consume alcohol, Heller said.
"Many of my patients ask me, 'Should I start or continue to drink wine? It's heart-healthy, isn't it?'" she said.
One of the reasons red wine in particular is considered heart-healthy is because of its resveratrol content, Heller said.
However, alcohol in any form can be toxic when one drinks too much. "While some studies indicate that regular consumption of red wine may have health benefits, the reality is that many of us drink too much alcohol, which over time can adversely affect liver and brain function, as well as blood sugar and weight," Heller said.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with a lot of phytochemicals (including resveratrol), vitamins and minerals that work together to help promote health and fight disease, she said.
"Red grapes, peanuts, berries and other foods containing resveratrol are great to include in your diet; however, since we eat foods and not single nutrients or compounds, we must remember to look at the whole picture of what we eat and how we choose to live," said Heller.
Current research and common sense suggests that a more plant-based, whole-food diet and regular exercise have long-term health benefits, Heller said.
"This is not to say that a glass of wine now and then is not a healthy option. The American Heart Association recommends an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women," Heller said. (A drink is one 12-oz. beer, 5 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).