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Johns Hopkins says resveratrol is all hype

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Resveratrol, the antioxidant in wine, dark chocolate, and some fruit, does not prevent any disease. New research conducted by Dr. Richard D. Semba, professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues published in the May 12, 2014, edition of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found no lasting health benefits from consuming resveratrol in a natural form or as a supplement. The researchers found no preventative health effects that correlate with the consumption of resveratrol in a study that lasted 11 years.

The health effects of resveratrol were first popularized by a study that found that a small population in France that consumed a diet high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and red wine had a lower incidence of coronary heart disease. The paradox was explained based on the high concentration of resveratrol and other antioxidants in the wine. Additional research demonstrated that mice that consumed huge amounts of resveratrol showed improved weight loss. No human could consume enough wine to reach the amounts the mice consumed. Smart marketing has made claims that resveratrol prevents inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and increases longevity.

The researchers examined the daily food and wine consumption of 783 men and women 65 years of age and older from the Aging in the Chianti Region study between 1998 and 2009. Daily urine samples were analyzed for the metabolic products of resveratrol for all participants. No differences in the frequency of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer or longevity could be correlated with the consumption of resveratrol or any food or drink that contained resveratrol.

The researchers consider this to be proof that resveratrol does not live up to the hype. The scientists explain that the composition of wine, grapes, dark chocolate, and other fruits that contain resveratrol is very complex. There may be a compound in these drinks and foods that prevents inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and increases longevity, but resveratrol is not that compound. Most extravagant claims about a food or diet product are discounted if one waits long enough for real science to be applied to the newest “miracle” food. Resveratrol just bit the dust.