Unlocking the Power of Resveratrol: Boost Your Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death. Experts have identified some prominent risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including unhealthy diet, diabetes, obesity, very high LDL levels, high blood pressure, smoking, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and sedentary lifestyle. Positive changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way to reducing inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Do supplements help? Research shows that antioxidant supplements play a significant role in maintaining heart health as they reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, the key driver of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular conditions.
Among all the well-known heart-healthy supplements, including CoQ10, magnesium, vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids, resveratrol most certainly takes its place as a natural antioxidant compound with some amazing benefits for cardiovascular health. Can resveratrol help with heart disease? Let’s delve deeper into the mechanisms through which resveratrol can play a big role in preventing or reducing the risk of heart disease.
What is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a natural compound produced by certain plants during stressful situations. Found in the skin of red grapes, certain berries, green tea, cocoa and peanuts, this polyphenol is a very powerful antioxidant that is being extensively researched for its potential benefits in heart health and brain health. On-going studies suggest that resveratrol works in many ways to improve health and longevity. In this 2nd part of our 3 part series on resveratrol, we will explore how resveratrol works for heart health and reduces risk factors associated with heart disease.
Unveiling the Wonders: How Resveratrol Works for Heart Health
Resveratrol heart benefits
Resveratrol maintains and boosts heart health by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative damage also damages the endothelium, a layer of cells that lines the inside of the blood vessels. While more research is required, preliminary studies show that resveratrol also improves endothelial function.
The Heart-Healthy Benefits of Resveratrol
Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol
Free radicals are highly volatile and reactive molecules produced naturally in the body during energy metabolism, immune response and moderate exercise. Free radicals modify the structure of lipids, proteins, DNA and other vulnerable cellular structures such as mitochondria. This causes oxidative damage, inflammation and premature ageing. Oxidative damage and inflammation are known to play an important role in the development of many chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease.
Your body is naturally designed to counter some of this damage with the help of self-repair mechanisms, endogenous anti-oxidants (that the body produces on its own) and exogenous anti-oxidants (that you get from your diet and supplements). However, many external factors, such as chronic stress, air pollution, pesticides, heavy metals, chronic infections and processed food, lead to the overwhelming production of free radicals in the body, creating imbalance and outwitting our body's natural ability to cope with, and limit, the oxidative damage. How does resveratrol help? [1-2]
1. Prevents the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL): Oxidized LDL triggers the immune system to mount unnecessary responses that damage endothelium and leads to the development of atherosclerosis, build-up of plaque within the arteries. Plaque deposits cause the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, reducing the flow of blood to the heart’s muscle. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of LDL molecules, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.
2. Improves the levels of other important antioxidant enzymes: Resveratrol increases the concentration of important anti-oxidant enzymes in cells, such as glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. This additional antioxidant support reduces oxidative stress in the vascular system.
3. Reduces inflammation: Short-term inflammation helps the body fight off infections, repair damage and heal wounds. This is short-lived and the tell-tale signs of inflammation begin to fade as the body heals. On the other hand, continuous exposure to the triggers (stubborn infections and harmful substances) may cause the immune system to keep mounting unnecessary responses, leading to chronic inflammation in the body. Many studies have established the role of chronic systemic inflammation in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Resveratrol prevents the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. The mechanism behind its anti-inflammatory action is attributable to its antioxidant properties, ability to activate other antioxidant enzymes and activation of sirtuins, a class of enzymes that regulate many processes such as cellular resistance to stress, cellular survival, inflammation, immune function and DNA repair.
Resveratrol improves endothelial function
The endothelium plays an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health. A healthy endothelium does a lot of work in keeping your blood vessels healthy, strong and flexible. It releases Nitric Oxide (NO), a substance that works as a powerful vasodilator and helps dilate the blood vessels, enabling better flow of blood. It also regulates processes such as blood clotting and inflammation in the blood vessels.
Poor endothelial function is an important factor in the development and progression of atherosclerosis, the leading cause of coronary heart disease. Various studies show that resveratrol may help improve endothelial function in people with heart attack and metabolic syndrome. 
Resveratrol regulates blood pressure
Initial research suggests that resveratrol supplements may help reduce blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health. [4-5] High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the primary risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure also damages the kidneys. Resveratrol helps lower high blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide, which helps relax the blood vessels.
Resveratrol activates sirtuins
Resveratrol activates SiRT1, class of enzymes that regulate processes such as oxidative damage, inflammation, energy metabolism, DNA repair etc. Emerging evidence suggests that substances that activate sirtuins may help in managing diseases associated with inflammation such as heart disease, arthritis and metabolic disorders. SIRT1 enzymes are also activated when we reduce our calorie intake.
Resveratrol helps in type 2 diabetes
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease. High glucose levels in the bloodstream promote inflammation and cause damage to the blood vessels. Studies show that resveratrol may help lower blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. Resveratrol supplementation has also been found to reduce arterial stiffness in people with type 2 diabetes. 
Incorporating Resveratrol into a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Grapes, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate, green tea and peanuts are some great sources of resveratrol. While consuming these foods can be a very enjoyable way to get your daily dose of resveratrol – dietary sources aren’t enough to provide heart healthy benefits. In addition, resveratrol is not easily absorbed by the body. It is rapidly metabolized and eliminated by the body. The easiest and most practical way to boost your heart health would be to take high quality liposomal resveratrol supplements. Liposomal supplements increase bioavailability and absorption and prevent gastrointestinal side effects.
Dietary and lifestyle factors play a critical role in the onset and development of cardiovascular disease. Smoking, lack of physical activity, chronic stress, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity increase the risk of heart disease. What should we do? Quit smoking, exercise, stay overall active, include sources of omega 3 fatty acids, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid sugar, unhealthy fats and processed foods, and sleep well.
FAQs about Resveratrol and Heart Health
Does resveratrol support heart health?
Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative damage and inflammation - key players in the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease. It also reduces blood pressure and improves endothelial functions.
Are there any potential side effects of resveratrol supplementation?
Resveratrol supplements are generally considered safe but they may cause nausea and vomiting when taken in very high doses. These supplements are not recommended for women with breast and ovarian cancer. It is also not recommended for women who are trying to get pregnant. Avoid resveratrol supplements if you have a bleeding disorder or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Always consult your health care provider before you start using resveratrol supplements as they may interact with some medications such as NSAIDs, anti-depressants and blood thinners.
- 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.
- Parsameanesh et al. Resveratrol and endothelial function: A literature review. Pharmacological Research. 2021.
- 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
- Marques et al. Beneficial effects of acute trans-resveratrol supplementation in treated hypertensive patients with endothelial dysfunction. Clin Exp Hypertens. 2018
- Su et al. Resveratrol in Treating Diabetes and Its Cardiovascular Complications: A Review of Its Mechanisms of Action. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022