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Resveratrol and Heart Health

February is American Heart Month! One of my favorite heart healthy nutrients is resveratrol.

Resveratrol belongs to a group of plant compounds called polyphenols which have powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, oxidative stress and the resulting inflammation. They therefore target one of the major underlying causes of cardiovascular disease as well and many other chronic diseases.

An animal study showed that resveratrol (at high doses) reduced inflammation, improved blood vessel function, reduced blood pressure and prevented the thickening of heart muscle. Research also suggests that it can protect against abnormal weight gain and diabetes, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

The most popular source of resveratrol is red wine and moderate red wine consumption has promising heart-healthy benefits. Moderate consumption is defined as two 5-ounce servings for men and one serving for women daily of red wine. This would equate to 1-2mg of resveratrol depending on the type grapes used to make the wine.

Some researchers believe that resveratrol content in the relatively high amounts of red wine consumed by the French may explain the "French Paradox". This is the term used to describe the low rates of cardiovascular disease in French people despite their high dietary content of saturated fats and cholesterol. Before you stock your cellar with the finest wines (for your heart's sake, of course), here are some other great sources of dietary resveratrol:

  • Red grapes and grape juice: Be sure to buy these organic to avoid high pesticide residues and leave the skins on since they contain the highest levels of resveratrol.

  • Peanuts: 1 cup of boiled peanuts has comparable amounts of resveratrol as 1 cup red grapes (1.25-1.28mg). Raw peanuts and peanut butter include less resveratrol. Watch out for allergies!

  • Dark berries - Blueberries, Bilberries and Cranberries: Exact resveratrol doses have not yet been established but these berries are generally high in helpful antioxidants.

Read more here to learn about oxidation, free radicals and other major antioxidant nutrients and their dietary sources.

Here's to your health,

Dr Mead


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