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Compound in red wine, grapes may offer greater benefits than originally thought

October 8, 2013

Few health care topics have attracted quite as much attention as the benefits of moderate red wine consumption. There has been considerable research on whether a compound called resveratrol, commonly found in the beverage, plays a significant role in healthy aging.

A new study from the journal Science Translational Medicine seems to confirm that the compound lives up to its reputation. Scientists from the University of Leicester found that the chemical's cancer-preventing benefits continue on even after the body has converted it to other compounds.

Important findings
To measure the long-term impact of resveratrol, researchers administered the chemical to mice subjects. By monitoring the levels of resveratrol in the plasma and tissues in the mice, the team was able to see that it remained in the system longer than originally thought. This comes as big news, scientists say, because resveratrol is metabolized relatively quickly. Basically, the findings reveal that enzymes in cells can break down resveratrol sulfates into resveratrol again. Additionally, researchers believe it may be more effective the second time around.

"Overall, I think our findings are very encouraging for all types of medical research on resveratrol," said professor Karen Brown. "They help to justify future clinical trials where, previously, it may have been difficult to argue that resveratrol can be useful in humans because of the low detectable concentrations."

Other benefits
In addition to fighting cancer, resveratrol offers numerous other health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. Specifically, the compound might help keep seniors heart healthy because its antioxidant qualities will increase the levels of so-called "good" cholesterol while protecting older adults from artery damage. Additionally, some research has shown that it can also prevent blood clotting and reduce the risk of inflammation, which is often signaled as the root cause of many health issues. 

More than wine
Although red wine may be the most well-known source of resveratrol, it is certainly not the only way for seniors to add some of the beneficial compound to their diets. For instance, red grapes may be one of the best sources, according to LiveScience, because resveratrol is found primarily in the skin of grapes, which is what helps red wine have such high levels of the compound. Additionally, seniors can find resveratrol in peanut butter, dark chocolate and blueberries.