The potential health benefits of resveratrol and red wine are the subject of a great deal of medical research. Scientists believe the antioxidant properties of resveratrol may be responsible for repairing damaged cells and encouraging new production of healthy cells. This cellular repair may in some instances slightly slow the aging process. In addition, the antioxidants in resveratrol and red wine may reduce risk factors for cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
For many years, the medical community puzzled over the fact that people in France remain healthier for much longer than many of their Western counterparts. In spite of eating diets that are very high in fats and carbohydrates, the French usually have lower incidence of heart disease and cancer. In addition, the French usually have slightly longer life spans than other Western populations. Medical researchers began calling this puzzling phenomenon the “French Paradox” and began to look at red wine consumption as a possible factor in the health of the French. These studies eventually led to a medical breakthrough involving the connection between resveratrol and red wine.
Reservatrol is a substance contained in plant skins that helps protect the plant from bacterial invasion. These invasions can sometimes cause cell mutations that could eventually destroy the plant. The skins of red grapes have an unusually high content of resveratrol, and when the grapes are fermented into wine, the resveratrol is passed on to the wine itself. White wine does not offer the same benefits of resveratrol as does red wine. Red wine achieves its color because, unlike white wine, fermentation takes place while the grapes are still in their skins.
Some studies indicate that resveratrol and red wine may trick the body into believing it is in starvation mode. Though that sounds like a bad thing, from a health perspective, that is actually not the case. When in starvation mode, body chemistry behaves in a highly protective manner. The immune system is on high alert, and cell rejuvenation is believed to be optimal. It is unclear exactly how much red wine and resveratrol needs to be consumed to achieve this mode.
The process of fermentation may intensify the effects of resveratrol, which is why wine may be a better source than raw red grapes. For those who do no want to consume alcohol, Japanese knotweed and peanuts also contain trace amounts of resveratrol, and most health food stores offer resveratrol in capsule form. These capsules are generally considered safe for consumption, but it is a good idea to consult a physician before taking any type of dietary supplement.