The French have long been envied for their low rates of heart disease, despite the consumption of all those cheeses and pâtés, and for many years now, scientists have suspected the part that red wine plays in this so called “French paradox.” A new study provides further evidence of the solidity of that theory.
Researchers from the industry, the University of Florida and the University of Madison-Wisconsin now report that resveratrol – a constituent of pomegranates, grapes and red wine – when taken in low doses, can enhance the health of the heart, thereby prolonging an individual’s life and boosting its quality. These findings were published in the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE.
The scientists experimented on middle aged mice, adding resveratrol to their diet and monitoring the effects on the aging process. The resveratrol was found to mimic the widely recognized effects of caloric restriction, a diet that contains between 20 to 30 percent fewer calories than a normal diet. Caloric restriction and its relation to the aging process have been studied widely, but this new study makes a connection between resveratrol and caloric restriction, suggesting that both govern the same genes that are related to aging.
According to Christiaan Leeuwenburtgh of the Institute of Aging at UF, who authored the study, caloric restriction in any species leads to a regulated cellular stress response which increases longevity. This study, he says, has proven that the benefits of caloric restriction are almost the same as the administering of resveratrol in low doses.
This connection between resveratrol and long life has been made before, when a study showed that high doses of resveratrol led to increased longevity in invertebrates. What this new study has shown is that the same substance in smaller doses and beginning in middle age can have the same benefits as the intake of fewer calories.
The study compared mice on a diet that contained low doses of resveratrol and others who were on a restricted diet. The similarity in the effects of both resveratrol and the restricted calories was astounding. Close to 90 percent of mice on a restricted diet showed significant alteration in gene expression of the heart, while in the case of resveratrol, the changes were visible in 92 percent of the animals.
It’s clear that small doses of resveratrol whether in the form of a glass of red wine or as a supplement can ward off the aging process of the heart. So, go ahead and have that extra glass of wine at lunch – it could just be the secret of a healthy heart and a long life!
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