What is Resveratrol Extract?

Susan Grindstaff

Resveratrol extract is a dietary supplement containing resveratrol, a chemical found primarily in peanuts and the skin of grapes. In plants, resveratrol acts as an antibiotic, protecting them from fungal and bacterial attacks. Though most of the studies concerning resveratrol extract have been conducted on mice rather than humans, results seem to suggest that resveratrol extract could have a significant impact on overall health, particularly in the circulatory system and cell degeneration.

Grapes contain resveratrol.
Grapes contain resveratrol.

Studies involving resveratrol as a dietary supplement seemed to arise from what is called the “French paradox.” Though the French eat diets that are by many standards considered unhealthy, they suffer fewer heart attacks and often live longer than people from other parts of the world. Their diets are heavy in fats and carbohydrates, yet their overall health does not seem to be impacted. Researchers began to look at their high consumption of wine as a possible source of this paradox. This research led scientists to the general consensus that resveratrol was the likely reason the French were able to stay in generally good health, in spite of their diet and lifestyle.

Resveratrol is found primarily in peanuts.
Resveratrol is found primarily in peanuts.

Resveratrol extract is obtained from many different types of plants, though peanuts, grapes, and cranberries seem to have the highest content. Resveratrol is found in the flesh and skins of both red and white grapes, but the concentration is much higher in the skins. Blueberries, especially the skins, are also used in making resveratrol extract.

Resveratrol extract can be obtained from cranberries and other plants.
Resveratrol extract can be obtained from cranberries and other plants.

Some of the highest concentrations of resveratrol are typically found in red wine. This is because grape skins spend more time fermenting when making red wine as opposed to white. Promoting wine as the best source of resveratrol posed a problem for most researchers, as alcohol consumption can pose health risks. The research focused on ways to turn resveratrol into an extract as opposed to encouraging alcohol consumption. After more than a decade of laboratory research, resveratrol extract is now available as a dietary supplement, though its overall effectiveness has yet to be determined.

When consumed in moderate quantities, the resveratrol in red wine is thought to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
When consumed in moderate quantities, the resveratrol in red wine is thought to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.

Research seems to indicate that resveratrol extract works as a powerful antioxidant, promoting heart health, weight loss, and lower blood pressure. In addition, it may also help with diabetes and slowing tumor growth. One of the more intriguing benefits of resveratrol extract is its possible effect on aging. The process by which resveratrol slows cell degeneration seems to be unclear, but it is thought to stem from its ability to eradicate free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that attack healthy cells and cause them to age and degenerate.

Blueberries are sometimes used in resveratrol extracts.
Blueberries are sometimes used in resveratrol extracts.

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