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Raise your glass: Resveratrol shows exercise benefits

A new study shows resveratrol may boost exercise performance. But will chugging red wine land us a place in the London Olympics?

In the past, red wine has been attributed to the “French Paradox”— French people have a low incidence of obesity and heart disease despite their penchant for fatty foods like cheese, butter, pastries, and relatively high wine consumption. Some scientists believe resveratrol, the active polyphenol compound found in grapes and red wine, may be to thank. In fact, red wine has been touted to benefit everything from heart health to longevity.

It may be time to raise another glass to this naturally occurring and powerful antioxidant, because recent research suggests resveratrol may positively affect exercise performance as well. 

While the study—published in the Journal of Physiology—was conducted with rats rather than humans, it was found that large doses of resveratrol mimicked physiological changes almost on par with “extensive endurance exercise training,” said Jason Dyck, study leader.

Rats were divided into two groups. One group was fed normal food as a control, and the other group was fed resveratrol-enhanced food. Both groups were subjected to a rigorous exercise program. (Cue image of rats in tiny 80’s-style workout unitards jazzercising to Madonna’s “Into the Groove”.)

After 12 weeks, the resveratrol rats exhibited improvements in their energy metabolism and heart strength. Particularly, the rats were able to pump more blood from their left ventricle—with less stress being placed on the heart tissue.

So will downing copious amounts of red wine fast track us to the London Olympics? Unlikely. (And obtaining an efficacious dose of resveratrol through red wine is anything but healthy—you would have to sip far too many glasses.) But the study both bolsters past resveratrol research, and lays the groundwork for the antioxidant’s hidden attributes for the future.

Do you take your resveratrol daily and in what form? Leave a comment.

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