If you love drinking wine and grape juice, or eating grapes, you could be behind others your age. And that’s a good thing—because you could be biologically younger.
Resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of grapes, helps slow the aging process. Red wine also has a store of resveratrol because the skins stay on the grapes when the wine is fermented.
It may not be as great as a time machine, but studies support that it’s close.
Age Like Fine Wine
Resveratrol is a strong antioxidant.
The reason it is linked to anti-aging is that it benefits cellular health in multiple body sites. Thus it shows promising effects on many age-related factors like bone mineral density. It also benefits blood pressure, heart and vascular health, brain aging and other systems.
Slowing down aging has man’s longtime quest. Until recently the most promising way to actually do that seemed to be eating less. A lot less. People who follow caloric restriction plans typically cut their daily intake by 300-500 calories.
This system was first proven to “work” on lab rats. But then came the questions. It seemed that it worked best on rats that were already prone to overeating. Rats that ate moderately showed much less benefit.
Researchers can also put rats in cages and strictly control every bite of food that comes their way. When people try to cut calories drastically, few manage to stay on plan.
But here we take a turn. Could resveratrol bring the same benefits? One short study, published in 2017 study said yes.[i]Researchers found that resveratrol and caloric restriction showed similar anti-aging activities for the rats they studied.
Fortunately, since cutting calories is so difficult, the research on humans looks good. We haven’t tracked anyone for a lifetime yet, but we do have good results from short-term trials.
Better than Cutting Calories? Easier for Sure
In the Resveratrol for Healthy Aging in Women trial, two groups of women aging 45-80 were tested with placebo (66 women) and resveratrol (63 women). In the first 12-month period half got resveratrol, half got the placebo. That was followed by a second, crossover period, where subjects switched regimes.
For the whole 24 month trial, the group who took 75 mg of resveratrol twice a day showed an increase in bone mass density in the femur and lower spine. These are the common fracture sites in postmenopausal women.
In the thirteenth month the group crossed over to the alternate treatment (placebo) and showed a decrease in bone mass density, especially in the lower spine, but still higher than the baseline value.
Another study involved 36 adults aged 40-80 with type-2 diabetes. The patients were divided into groups that got 0, 75 mg, 150mg or 200 mg of resveratrol. The zero-resveratrol group had no improvement. But there was a significant benefit in brain health in the adults who took 75 mg or more of resveratrol.
In this remarkable study, scientists were able to measure the changes in blood flow to the brain in response to signals. The resveratrol groups processed information faster, maintained attention and focus better, and were more able to manage multiple tasks. [ii]
It’s Not Just Grapes
You may enjoy getting your dose of resveratrol from red wine or grapes, but it is not the only path.
Peanuts. Peanuts you consume raw or boiled, or even as peanut butter are packed with resveratrol. For every cup of raw peanuts, you get 0.01-0.26 mg of resveratrol, 0.32-1.28 mg for a cup of boiled and 0.04-0.13 mg for every cup of peanut butter.
Pistachios. Recent studies show that resveratrol protects brain health, and pistachios contain a range of 9 to 167 μg/100 g of resveratrol.
Vaccinium Berries. Cranberries, blueberries, deerberries, lingonberries and bilberries contain resveratrol at levels ranging from 7 to 5884 ng/g dry sample. Lingonberries have nearly as much resveratrol as grapes.
Cocoa. One of the best ways to enjoy resveratrol (and life itself) is by indulging in cocoa and chocolate. Cocoa powders have the highest level, followed by unsweetened baking chocolates, semisweet chips, dark chocolates, milk chocolates, and chocolate syrups. Granted, they may not have the resveratrol level of red wines and grape juice, but they do have more than roasted peanuts.
Japanese Knotweed. The striking green and white plant is very popular in Japan and China due to their many medicinal. Traditional uses include brain health, lung support, skin, memory, gum and tooth health, and so on. Often concocted to become Japanese’s famous Itadori Tea, the Japanese Knotweed has the highest known levels of resveratrol—about twice the amounts in red wine.
Supplements.You may have noticed from these numbers that eating your way to a 75 mg or more daily dose of resveratrol would be quite a task. You’d need 3,000 pounds or more of peanuts per day. You would get improvements at lower doses most likely, but only a supplement can reach the same levels that have been shown to work in clinical trials.
[i]Li J, Zhang CX, Liu YM, Chen KL, Chen G. A comparative study of anti-aging properties and mechanism: resveratrol and caloric restriction. Oncotarget. 2017;8(39):65717-65729. Published 2017 Aug 9. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.20084
[ii]Wong RH, Raederstorff D, Howe PR. Acute Resveratrol Consumption Improves Neurovascular Coupling Capacity in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 2016;8(7):425. Published 2016 Jul 12. doi:10.3390/nu8070425