Could This Compound Help Combat the Biggest Health Threats Facing the U.S.?
Obesity rates are on the rise in the U.S., according to a report just released by the CDC. This unsettling news does not bode well for the health and longevity of future generations of Americans. Obesity is linked to elevated risk for a number of health problems, but the correlation between obesity and risk for heart disease is especially strong. Perhaps not surprisingly, heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country.
The U.S. government has apparently taken note of the magnitude of the problem, having recently invested $250 million in preventive health care. The creation of the Childhood Obesity Task Force, and Michelle Obama’s launch of the Let’s Move! program are also good signs of growing awareness the public health threat posed by the obesity epidemic.
Additionally, scientists are studying new approaches to preventive health care. One place they’re looking is resveratrol, the compound found in grapes and red wine that is known for its wide range of health benefits.
Resveratrol: The French Paradox Explained
When it comes to the French, we know one thing for sure: their incidence of heart disease and rate of obesity are low. And now we know that it may be from drinking all that Bordeaux.
Scientists think that the resveratrol found in red wine might be influencing blood vessel and fat cell function, both of which affect the health of our hearts, according to studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Resveratrol Boosts Heart Health, Fights Fat
The first study focused on endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which contribute to the health of cells lining blood vessels. After consuming approximately 8 ounces of red wine daily for 21 days, Israeli researchers noted that the number of EPCs increased. In addition, there was an increase in nitric oxide production, which is important in dilatating the blood vessels. The second study, done by German researchers, found that fat production in cells exposed to resveratrol was inhibited.
What’s more: An accompanying editorial called for well-designed human trials to further explore the potential benefits of red wine and resveratrol. Specifically, NIH scientists wrote: “the potential effect of resveratrol in preventive medicine and treatment of metabolic diseases cannot be overlooked.”
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010, 92: 5-15; 92:161-169; 92: 1-2.