For years medical researchers have been urging us to get plenty of resveratrol, a natural substance found in red wine, because it promotes heart health.
While there is plenty of conflicting research in that regard, lots of people have taken this as an excuse for drinking lots and lots of wine, which is not always such a good thing.
But what about people who don't drink alcoholic beverages? Are there other natural ways to get resveratrol in their diets?
Fermentation not necessary
There certainly is. One of the principal sources is red grapes. The grapes don't have to be fermented into wine for the fruit to deliver plenty of resveratrol, which is found in the skin of the grapes, along with other healthy things like manganese, potassium and vitamins K, C and B1.
Blueberries are another source of resveratrol, even though they contain less than grapes. But they also deliver other powerful antioxidents and dietary fiber.
There are even non-fruit sources of resveratrol. Peanut butter has it, along with niacin and manganese. So does dark chocolate, which is also loaded with iron and copper. Both, however, tend to be high in calories and perhaps should be consumed sparingly.
There are also those who say that such foods provide only a trivial amount of the substance.
"Wine is an alcohol extract of grape skin and provides 1000-fold more resveratrol, maybe 1 milligram per 5 oz glass of red wine. 3-5 glasses of red wine daily is required to reduce the risk of death from coronary artery disease," said Bill Sardi, an executive with Longevinex, a dietary supplement which he says produces the same health benefits of wine without the alcohol.
In the most recent study of resveratrol's effects, researchers at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz found that resveratrol reduces inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
"This is an important finding in view of the fact that more recent research has shown that cardiovascular diseases are significantly promoted by inflammatory processes in the body," said researcher Andrea Pautz. “Cardiovascular disorders, such as myocardial infarction and strokes, frequently occur in association with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.”
Pautz says that supports the conclusion that resveratrol has major therapeutic potential, particularly when it comes to the treatment of inflammatory diseases that can cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system.
Despite the fact that they eat more fatty foods, the French tend to suffer heart diseases less frequently than Germans. This so-called French Paradox is attributed to the higher consumption of red wine in France, the basis of much of the previous resveratrol research.
There's another school of thought in research circles that the hype over resveratrol is just a way to sell more red wine. Earlier this year the Harvard Health Letter reported on research suggesting resveratrol delivered little or no health benefits.
Regardless of where you come down in this issue, consumers need to know that they have choices. Getting resveratrol from red wine may have obvious benefits for some but those who abstain from alcohol can get it from other natural sources.