Resveratrol in form of a health supplement, or in its natural environment - in red wine for example - has recently become a very popular ingredient for health improvement, prevention of serious medical conditions and has even been considered a weight-loss miracle super-food. In this article we will focus our attention on the underlying mechanisms through which this compound functions in our organism. If we examine the chemistry (or bio-chemistry) of resveratrol, we will find out that this substance essentially belongs to the group of phytoestrogens. What does it mean? A phytoestrogen is a chemical compound extracted from plants that can mimic the function of estrogen – a hormone produced by our body.
As an estrogen, resveratrol has a number of beneficial effects, including relieving climacteric symptoms, vasomotor symptoms, and postmenopausal health risks. It is believed to have anticancer properties, as well as cardioprotective effects. Its positive effects on the bones, and prostate should not be omitted either.
Apart from being a phytoestrogen, resveratrol is also a flavonoid. Flavonoids are especially effective due to their exceptional antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative characteristics. Grape juice and red wine contain larger quantities of resveratrol, but this substance can also be found in other fruits, such as plums, cherries, currants, blackberry, peanuts, and pine. The protective action of grape juice and red wine is believed to be due to the combined effect of several polyphenols. Flavonoids such as resveratrol (but also quercetin and rutin) belong to the group of polyphenols - known to reduce the impact of aging on the brain.
As an antioxidant, resveratrol neutralizes the harmful behavior of the free radicals in our body. It induces the expression of heme oxygenase, increases the activity of heme oxygenase, and therefore helps and protects when there is an increased stress.
All in all, resveratrol shows antioxidant, anticancer and cardioprotective function. Some researchers have shown that it also possesses a substantial neuroprotective effect. In addition to the above features, resveratrol inhibits the atherosclerosis induced tissue modification, and reduces the plaque aggregation. Other researchers have confirmed that resveratrol slows down the natural decay and cellular death. Moreover, this substance improves the functioning of the lungs, and reduces the growth of some tumors, especially the skin related ones. Resveratrol also shows substantial protective and restorative effects in cases of brain stroke.
What are the best sources of resveratrol? In human nutrition there is no better natural source of resveratrol than grapes or red wine. Thanks to the described properties, resveratrol is actually the main ingredient from the family of polyphenols in charge for the beneficial health effects of red wine. However, make no mistake, red wine contains alcohol and this is exactly why there is a down side in this story – alcohol consummation in any form cannot be considered safe or beneficial for human health. Therefore some people advocate the use of resveratrol pills and supplemental products. This strategy is also questionable, and should be carefully examined in regard to the possible side effects. Therefore, probably the best source of this natural health booster is the type of resveratrol found in grape juice.
The intense focusing of scientists on resveratrol related research in the recent years has provoked even more scientific studies in hope that the properties of this substance with wondrous impact on human health will be even better understood. Even more, there have appeared some guidelines as to how to produce wine with larger concentrations of resveratrol and red grape types with higher resveratrol content.
Resveratrol's powerful antioxidant function is the main contribution of this substance on our health. It will supposedly protect us from arteriosclerosis; it will influence the synthesis of lipids, it will inhibit the aggregation of blood platelets. Still even more rigorous studies are to be conducted prior to proclaiming the resveratrol compound a new miracle cure. In conclusion, consuming healthy juices on a daily basis is a great way to improve our general health and in many cases prevent potential serious health problems.