Resveratrol may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, according to a new study.
Resveratrol is a natural compound that is found in more than 70 plant species, including nuts, grapes, pine trees, and certain vines, as well as in red wine. It is thought to play a role in preventing heart disease. Early studies have shown that resveratrol has antioxidant, anticancer, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial effects. Since resveratrol is found in grapes and wines, early research focused on linking resveratrol to the potential heart health benefits of moderate wine drinking. However, this research has expanded to examine the effects of resveratrol on many medical conditions, including cancer, bacterial and viral infections, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Early research suggests that resveratrol may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes. However, more research is needed before conclusions can be made.
In a recent study, researchers randomly assigned 66 participants with diabetes to receive one gram of resveratrol or placebo daily for 45 days. Factors such as age, gender, bodyweight and blood pressure were similar for participants in both groups. Various outcome measures, including body weight, fasting blood glucose, insulin resistance, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels were evaluated before and after the 45 days of supplementation.
The researchers found that the participants in the resveratrol group had significantly lower blood pressure, blood glucose and insulin resistance when compared to their levels at the beginning of the study. Additionally, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol significantly increased. Conversely, participants in the placebo group had moderately, but significantly, increased blood glucose and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels when compared to the beginning of the study. Changes in insulin resistance in the placebo group were lacking. Effects on body weight and body mass index in both groups were lacking.
The authors concluded that resveratrol may have beneficially antidiabetic effects in people with diabetes. Additional well-designed clinical trials are necessary to further evaluate these findings.
Attention was first drawn to resveratrol in 1992 when it was mentioned as a constituent of red wine. Humans have been consuming wine for approximately 7,000 years. Resveratrol and other polyphenols in wine are thought to account in part for the so-called "French paradox," the finding that the rate of coronary heart disease mortality in France is lower than that observed in other industrialized countries with a similar risk factor profile.
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