For years, red wine has been touted as a heart-healthy choice that’s full of good-for-you antioxidants. The secret? Resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of red grapes, that was often credited for everything from slowing the aging process to curbing heart disease. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, wine isn’t quite the superfood it was believed to be–and, according to a new study, neither is resveratrol itself, even in a supplement.
Red wine and resveratrol were at the center of a scientific scandal earlier this year, when it became clear that the initial study which made so many health claims about the power of resveratrol and the amount of it in wine had been falsified. But so many people were still convinced of red wine’s healing powers that attention quickly turned to a health Hail Mary: Resveratrol as a supplement.
Which seemed like a good solution–sure, it meant you couldn’t really write off your nightly glass (or three) of merlot as a “preventative measure,” but it did mean that everything we collectively believed about science, health, and booze wasn’t in tatters. And resveratrol was found to have some health benefits that might be worth tracking it down in pill form.
Unfortunately, according to a study in the November edition of Cell Metabolism, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine, even resveratrol supplements don’t seem to be quite as miraculous as previously thought.
The study, which looked to examine resveratrol’s ability to help women produce and use insulin, as well as examined cholesterol and other health indicators, was conducted by administering resveratrol supplements to one group of women, and placebo pills to another. Researchers did not administer actual wine, though, because “to get the equivalent amount of the compound from wine, the women in the resveratrol group would have needed to have drunk 8 liters of red wine a day,” according to WedMD.
In the end, the wonder supplement appeared to have little impact on any of the measures of health researchers looked at–particularly in already-healthy, non-obese women. According to the researchers, the findings “demonstrate that resveratrol supplementation does not have beneficial metabolic effects in nonobese, postmenopausal women with normal glucose tolerance.”
This isn’t the nail in resveratrol’s coffin, though; it’s just another study in a growing body of research, which seems to go back and forth a little. For example, previous studies have shown that in individuals with type 2 diabetes, resveratrol may help with metabolic function.
Which means if you want to keep hedging your bets and taking a resveratrol supplement, there may still be some benefit. Just know that red wine is still a drink, not a medication.
Image by Flickr user freddie boy