Resveratol is a plant-based compound that has had a lot of recent health buzz and that has become quite popular as a nutraceutical.

In the natural world, it is found primarily in wine, grapes, peanuts, pistachios, cocoa powder, Itadori tea, and certain berries (blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, lingonberries).

Plants create this resveratol to protect them from threats and invaders like insects, bacteria, fungus, and excess UV light. So does it stand to reason that it might be able to protect us non-plants as well?

The answer so far is a complicated maybe. On the positive side, resveratol seems to be able to reduce systolic blood pressure by increasing blood levels of nitric oxide, which allows more blood to reach the brain and was associated with better cognitive performance in a study done on elderly volunteers.

Additionally, resveratol seems to be a potent antioxidant, keeping various toxins from building up in cells and creating oxidative stress.

Resveratol has also been found to decrease bad and total cholesterol in mice while increasing good cholesterol. Plus, resveratol is a phytoestrogen, meaning that it can act similarly to estrogen in the body and thus lessen some of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause that come when natural estrogen drops.

Since osteoarthritis in older women is often associated with this estrogen drop, resveratol may reduce its symptoms as well. On a related note, resveratol also has the potential to prevent cartilage from deteriorating.

It may also lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease by protecting brain cells from damage, and by preventing the production of harmful beta-amyloid plaques.

However, another study found that while resveratol indeed displays "anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective, vasorelaxant, phytoestrogenic and neuroprotective" effects, it also has the potential to act as a causative factor in certain diseases if delivered in the wrong doses or if it interacts unfavorably with other factors like age and diet.

Resveratol may also interfere with blood clotting, and could cause medication overdoses by inhibiting the usual processes that clear substances from our systems.

So what's all this about resveratol potentially increasing your lifespan? Well, it's true that resveratol may increase lifespan in yeast, flies, worms and fish, seemingly by slowing their metabolisms down and thus slowing down age-related damage as well.

While that may sound like a bad thing for someone trying to lose fat, resveratol produced this effect in only 60 percent of many different animal studies, and none of this 60 percent were mammals. So it may not even be worth worrying about!

In contrast, mouse studies have associated resveratol with the ability to turn more white fat into fat-burning beige fat, and multiple studies have associated resveratol with higher insulin sensitivity, which should ultimately result in a lower risk of diabetes and fewer calories being stored as fat.

Some research also suggests that resveratol's effect on insulin sensitivity means it has the potential to enhance exercise performance, though other studies suggest it may blunt some of exercise's cardiovascular benefits.

Unfortunately, there are no studies of the long term effects of supplemental resveratol in humans, and though there is some evidence of its benefits, a lot more research is required before we can say anything for sure.

It's still pretty unlikely to hurt you, though, especially if you stick to the quite small amounts that are present in food rather than risking the uncertainty of a supplement.

Blueberries actually contain the most resveratol among foods, then little known European bilberries, then boiled peanuts, and then the notorious red wine, though wine's resveratol content can vary with the wine's quality and the region in which it was grown. Among red wines, pinot noir is thought to contain the most!

Supplemental resveratol, on the other hand, is usually made from a highly invasive plant called Japanese knotweed, which is rarely eaten despite the fact that many parts of it are edible and can be quite good for you!

Be aware, though, that not all supplemental resveratol is created equal, and that some forms of resveratol may be mixed with ingredients that can have unpleasant side effects, though such side effects are rare from resveratol alone.

Thus, look for "resveratol" itself on the ingredient label to avoid getting a version too diluted to do much good, and be sure to research anything else you see!

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