Red wine compound resveratrol appears to have no benefit for healthy women

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Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and some foods, does not appear to benefit healthy women, according to research published in Cell Metabolism.

“Resveratrol supplements have become popular because studies in cell systems and rodents show that resveratrol can improve metabolic function and prevent or reverse certain health problems like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer,” said senior investigator Samuel Klein, MD, director of Washington University’s Center for Human Nutrition. “But our data demonstrate that resveratrol supplementation does not have metabolic benefits in relatively healthy, middle-aged women.”

Previous studies have found resveratrol could help those with disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. However, the compound did not appear to provide health benefits to post-menopausal women who did not have type 2 diabetes and who were reasonably healthy.

“Few studies have evaluated the effects of resveratrol in people,” Klein explains. “Those studies were conducted in people with diabetes, older adults with impaired glucose tolerance or obese people who had more metabolic problems than the women we studied. So it is possible that resveratrol could have beneficial effects in people who are more metabolically abnormal than the subjects who participated in the study.”

Resveratrol is available as a dietary supplement and is abundant in foods such as red grapes, blueberries and nuts. Thanks to studies on the health effect of the compound, annual sales of resveratrol supplements have risen to $30 million in the United States.

The study also evaluated resveratrol’s effect on insulin sensitivity, but was unable to detect any changes due to daily resveratrol supplementation.

“The purpose of our study was not to identify the active ingredient in red wine that improves health but to determine whether supplementation with resveratrol has independent, metabolic effects in relatively healthy people,” Klein said. “We were unable to detect a metabolic benefit of resveratrol supplementation in our study population, but this does not preclude the possibility that resveratrol could have a synergistic effect when combined with other compounds in red wine.”

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