Decades ago, researchers found that drinking a glass of red wine a day can help lower cholesterol. This was used to explain why the French – regular red wine drinkers – have such low risks of cardiovascular disease. The same scientists state that it’s not the red wine per se that makes it a healthy beverage, but what’s inside the red wine: Resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a compound found in plants and is known to possess antioxidant properties. While the most popular source is red wine, it is naturally sourced from grapes, peanuts, and some berries. It is highly concentrated in the skin and seeds of grapes and berries, the parts included in the fermentation of wine.
Companies have manufactured and sold resveratrol as a heart-healthy supplement. Furthermore, many have attributed resveratrol consumption to a longer life. After all, heart disease is still one of the primary causes of death in the world, so lowering heart disease risk can indirectly prolong one’s life.
But what does the science say about resveratrol?
Systolic blood pressure normally rises with age as the arteries stiffen. When it’s too high, the risks of heart disease is at its peak. Studies have shown taking resveratrol in high doses can help reduce blood pressure by forcing the body to produce more nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is our natural vasodilator or a compound that has key functions in blood circulation and blood flow. Higher resveratrol intake can lead to more nitric oxide content. More nitric oxide can promote blood vessel relaxation, lowering blood pressure in the process. 
LDL and HDL are two of the main types of blood fats. LDL is referred to as the “bad” cholesterol (because higher LDL is a marker for heart disease) and HDL is referred to as the good cholesterol. Supplementing resveratrol has been found to exhibit pro-HDL properties. 
Resveratrol was shown to not only lower LDL, but also increase HDL count in animal and human subjects. Furthermore, the compound was also shown to naturally reduce the effects of specific enzymes that trigger cholesterol production.
As an antioxidant, resveratrol can also lower the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. LDL oxidation contributes to plaque buildup inside our artery walls.
Some researchers speculate that resveratrol might actually promote longevity. They said it’s due to how resveratrol activates specific groups of genes that can protect against diseases related to ageing. However, scientists do note that they’re still inconclusive when it comes to human subjects. 
Studies have linked brain health and slowing down age-related cognitive decline to red wine consumption. They say it could be due to red wine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Resveratrol has been shown to interfere with protein fragments that lay the groundwork for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Also, it can also promote processes that trigger a “protect brain cells” function. 
Insulin resistance is characterized as the weakening of the body’s ability to properly scavenge glucose from blood circulation. This forces the body to produce more insulin to try to compensate, but too much insulin has been linked to multiple cardiovascular conditions like obesity.
Taking resveratrol can influence insulin sensitivity and help prevent complications from diabetes. Researchers say it’s due to how resveratrol helps reduce the conversion of glucose to sorbitol. Too much sorbitol in people with diabetes can promote oxidative stress. 
In various studies, resveratrol has some positive results when it comes to preventing and treating cancer. It demonstrated the ability to ward off several kinds of cancer cells, especially those of skin, colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
It can potentially reduce cancer cell growth, alternate genes to inhibit cancer cell multiplication, and have anti-cancer effects on hormone-dependent cancer cells. 
However, most of these studies were only observed in test tubes or in animals.
Resveratrol is the one compound that many agree to be the reason behind the health benefits of red wine. In studies, it has shown to have cardiovascular, cholesterol, anti-cancer, and even longevity benefits. While most studies were of animal subjects or test tubes, resveratrol is still considered beneficial to humans.