Resveratrol: How Much Wine Do You Have to Drink to Stay Healthy?1–3

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Abstract

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring stilbene endowed with multiple health-promoting effects. It is produced by certain plants including several dietary sources such as grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, plums, peanuts, and products derived therefrom (e.g., wine). Resveratrol can be isolated and purified from these biological sources or synthesized in a few steps with an overall high yield. This compound and its glucoside, the trans-polydatin piceid, have received worldwide attention for their beneficial effects on cardiovascular, inflammatory, neurodegenerative, metabolic, and age-related diseases. These health-promoting effects are particularly attractive given the prevalence of resveratrol-based nutraceuticals and the paradoxical epidemiologic observation that wine consumption is inversely correlated to the incidence of coronary heart disease. However, the notion of resveratrol as a “magic bullet” was recently challenged by clinical trials showing that this polyphenol does not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk. In the present review, we discuss the proposed therapeutic attributes and the mode of molecular actions of resveratrol. We also cover recent pharmacologic efforts to improve the poor bioavailability of resveratrol and influence the transition between body systems in humans. We conclude with some thoughts about future research directions that might be meaningful for resolving controversies surrounding resveratrol.

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