February 5, 2016

Study: compound in red wine falls short for some health benefits

One of the purported health benefits of red wine is called into question by a study done in St. Louis.

The findings of a recent Washington University study say a compound in red wine doesn’t deliver in one area of health benefits. (Photo: Robert Boston)

The study was not of red wine but of a compound found in it, resveratrol, that is also sold as a supplement. It is thought to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce risk of heart disease and increase longevity.

Doctor Samuel Klein is the Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science and directs the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science and the Center for Applied Research Sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine.  He says studies done on animals have supported some of the claimed benefits of consuming resveratrol, “but those were in metabolically unhealthy animals. We actually studied relatively metabolically healthy people, and when you give resveratrol to metabolically healthy animals there is no beneficial effect. We found a similar result in people … if you’re relatively healthy, there’s no benefit to consuming resveratrol.”

Klein says the finding does not dispute that resveratrol could be beneficial in other situations, such as in people who have metabolic abnormalities. “Those metabolic abnormalities would be blood sugar, increased blood pressure and abnormal blood lipids. So if you have abnormalities in those areas resveratrol might be healthy. We still need more study to really evaluate that more carefully and I think those studies are actually currently underway, and so we’ll get more data in the next one or two years.”

So, Klein says there is no reason for those who take resveratrol supplements to stop based on this finding. “I think if someone is taking resveratrol and they feel it’s helping them, they should continue, but if they’re metabolically healthy to begin with there doesn’t seem to be any obvious benefit at this time.”

As for red wine drinkers, he says, “They should keep drinking as much wine as possible.”

See the study online in Cell Metabolism.