What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, naturally produced by some plants in response to stress, such as damage to the plants structure, infection, lack of nutrients or exposure to UV rays. This compound is mostly found in grapes, berries, dark chocolate, and peanuts. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and may reduce the risk of many chronic conditions that are rooted in oxidative damage and inflammation. Our 3-part series on resveratrol will explore the mechanisms through which it works in the body, the anti-ageing properties of resveratrol and overall health benefits that it offers.
Health Benefits of Resveratrol
Research suggests that resveratrol offers tremendous health benefits and acts as a powerful antioxidant with cardioprotective, neuroprotective, anti-ageing and anti-diabetic properties.  Let’s see how its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature along with its ability to activate sirtuins – a class of enzymes – makes resveratrol a very promising compound in maintaining overall health, delaying premature ageing and providing protection against a wide range of health conditions.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Resveratrol packs quite a punch when it comes to reducing oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Oxidative damage and the resulting chaos are well-known to cause inflammation and increase the risk of chronic conditions. As an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substance, resveratrol also supports the health of blood vessels, heart, brain and other tissues. Not only does it work as an antioxidant, it also improves the production of other antioxidants naturally produced by the body, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione.
Resveratrol supports and maintains cardiovascular health through a number of mechanisms. As an antioxidant, it reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a key process in the fight against heart disease. Human clinical trials show that resveratrol supplements can be used to support and boost cardiovascular health as it reduces inflammation, helps reduce blood pressure levels, reduces arterial stiffness in people with type 2 diabetes, and improves heart function in people with heart failure. [2-4]
Resveratrol also improves endothelial function (a thin layer of cells that lines the inside of the blood vessels). [5-6] A healthy endothelium releases substances (such as nitric oxide) that control the ability of arteries to dilate and contract. It also regulates functions such as blood clotting and inflammation in the blood vessels. Unhealthy or damaged endothelium are known to contribute to conditions such as atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries), high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance. Does resveratrol lower blood pressure? Resveratrol stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO), that improves the function of blood vessels and regulates blood pressure.
Brain health and cognitive function
The brain requires high amounts of energy to function, which means it is highly vulnerable to the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals produced during the energy production. Its ability to neutralize free radicals and minimize oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain helps resveratrol support brain and cognitive health. Studies show that adequate dosage of resveratrol can protect against cognitive decline. 
A 2017 study showed that resveratrol prevents pro-inflammatory proteins and molecules from cross the blood-brain barrier. These molecules can cause damage and inflammation in the brain. The study also revealed that resveratrol increases molecules that assist the immune system to destroy and get rid of proteins that can cause damage to the brain. 
A study found that resveratrol supplements can be helpful in improving cognition and brain function in post-menopausal women as hormonal changes in menopause increases the risk of cognitive decline. 
Research also shows that resveratrol supplementation can help maintain cognitive health in people with type 2 diabetes who are at a very high risk of fast-developing dementia. .
Anti-ageing and longevity benefits
Free radicals cause cellular damage, inflammation and premature ageing. These molecules are produced during complex bio-chemical reactions (energy production and immune responses). External factors such as stress, cigarette smoking and exposure to pollutants also triggers the production of free radicals, exposing the body to further oxidative stress and the anti-oxidant properties of resveratrol protect cells from this oxidative stress. Resveratrol also improves the levels of other anti-oxidant enzymes within the cells, giving your body an additional antioxidant edge that it needs to protect cells, organs and tissues from the damage inflicted by free radicals.
In addition, resveratrol activates sirtuins, which are enzymes that play a crucial role in promoting health and lifespan. Sirtuins regulate processes such as energy production, metabolism, immune function, DNA repair and cellular response to stress. These enzymes also improve the health and concentration of the mitochondria. tiny organelles present in the cells that convert food into energy. Resveratrol also boosts the concentration of antioxidant enzymes in the mitochondria.
Type 2 Diabetes
Resveratrol reduces blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. It appears to also protect against cardiovascular and other complications associated with type 2 diabetes.  For example, it reduces arterial stiffness in people with type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes suffer from premature hardening of arteries, increasing all kinds of health risks such as high blood pressure, heart attack and even stroke. All these benefits are due to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as its ability to activate sirtuins.
Resveratrol makes your skin look young and healthy. As an anti-oxidant, it protects the skin from UV radiation. It also helps in the synthesis of collagen, that gives skin its elasticity, strength and youthfulness.
Grapes, berries, peanuts and chocolate are a good source of resveratrol. You can also take resveratrol supplements to benefit from its ant-ageing and antioxidant benefits. Resveratrol is an amazing compound with tremendous health benefits, but the benefits are limited by poor bio-availability. It is quickly digested and cleared from the body, which means the body does not get enough time to absorb it. Therefore, choosing the right kind of supplement is important to get the maximum benefits. Liposomal resveratrol supplements offer higher absorption and bio-availability in comparison to other forms.
Resveratrol is a natural compound that slows down the damage caused by free radicals, reducing inflammation and risk of premature ageing. Research has also shown resveratrol reduces the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline and metabolic disorders. While it is quite safe to take resveratrol supplements, women with conditions such as endometriosis, uterine cancer, breast cancer or ovarian cancer should not use resveratrol supplements. The chemical structure of resveratrol is the same as that of estrogen and as such it shows estrogenic activity, not safe in conditions that are sensitive to estrogen. Women trying to get pregnant should also avoid resveratrol.
Can Resveratrol help with joint pain and arthritis?
Resveratrol supplements can be beneficial in people with knee pain, joint pain and arthritis. It reduces inflammation and improves joint pain and function.
Is Resveratrol beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes?
Resveratrol supplements can reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Are there any interactions between Resveratrol and medications?
Resveratrol prevents blood clotting and reduces stickiness in platelets. People taking blood thinners or with bleeding disorders should avoid taking resveratrol.
- Zhang et al. Resveratrol (RV): A pharmacological review and call for further research. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2021.
- Gal et al. The Effect of Resveratrol on the Cardiovascular System from Molecular Mechanisms to Clinical Results. Int J Mol Sci. 2021.
- Dyck et al. The Effects of Resveratrol in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease and Heart Failure: A Narrative Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2019.
- Fogacci et al. Effect of resveratrol on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled, clinical trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019
- Parsameanesh et al. Resveratrol and endothelial function: A literature review. Pharmacological Research. 2021.
- Marques et al. Beneficial effects of acute trans-resveratrol supplementation in treated hypertensive patients with endothelial dysfunction. Clin Exp Hypertens. 2018
- Cicero et al. Resveratrol and cognitive decline: a clinician perspective. Arch Med Sci. 2019
- Moussa et al. Resveratrol regulates neuro-inflammation and induces adaptive immunity in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neuroinflammation 2017
- Evans et al. Effects of Resveratrol on Cognitive Performance, Mood and Cerebrovascular Function in Post-Menopausal Women; A 14-Week Randomised Placebo-Controlled Intervention Trial. Nutrients. 2017
- Wong et al. Low dose resveratrol improves cerebrovascular function in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. 2016.
- Su et al. Resveratrol in Treating Diabetes and Its Cardiovascular Complications: A Review of Its Mechanisms of Action. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022