Resveratrol’s Health Benefits Linked to Fat Hormone Control

Drinking modest amounts of red wine, at least for men, has health benefits because both red wine and grapes contain an antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol has recently been catapulted into nutritional fame as a novel compound that prolongs life in animals, and, hopefully, in humans. Now, a new study shows that resveratrol in grapes and red wine has another benefit, it may help in the fight against obesity.

Resveratrol in Red Wine Increases Insulin Sensitivity

Researchers at the University of Texas recently found that resveratrol in red wine and grapes stimulate the release of a protein called adiponectin. Adiponectin is found in fatty tissue and functions like a hormone to reduce insulin resistance and positively affect fat metabolism. People who are obese often have insulin resistance, which means their cells aren’t sensitive enough to the insulin they produce. Because of this resistance, the pancreas has to pump out more insulin. Eventually, the pancreas “tires” of producing this extra insulin and type 2 diabetes results.

Resveratrol to the Rescue

How does resveratrol theoretically remedy this problem? Resveratrol boosts adiponectin production, which helps to increase insulin sensitivity. This prevents some of the metabolic complications that lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and heart disease. It may also help improve fat metabolism and lower the risk of obesity.

According to one study, people who are obese have lower adiponectin levels. Researchers are hoping that the adiponectin-boosting effects of resveratrol in red wine and grapes will ward off obesity and other complications related to insulin resistance – and, maybe, even slow down the aging process. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Resveratrol may also be a force in the fight against heart disease. Some experts believe the resveratrol in red wine accounts for the “French paradox”, the observation that the French have a low risk of heart disease despite eating a high fat diet. Is it the resveratrol in the wine they sip? This is still being debated.

Resveratrol in Red Wine: The Bottom Line?

Resveratrol may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, at least in animals, but don’t jump on the bandwagon just yet. No one knows what the long-term effects of taking resveratrol supplements are.  Some studies show that resveratrol has estrogen-like effects, which could raise the risk of breast cancer. It’s an intriguing compound, but enjoy it naturally by eating grapes and drinking modest amounts of red wine until more is known. 

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