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July 2013

Resveratrol May Not Enhance Heart Health Benefits of Exercise

Resveratrol may not enhance the heart health benefits of exercise training in older men, according to a 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. Much research has focused on the potential health benefits of resveratrol due to the "French paradox," the finding that death rates from heart disease are lower in France, where red wine consumption is common. 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.

Previous research suggests that resveratrol may play a role in enhancing the heart health benefits of exercise training. In the current study, scientists set out to test this hypothesis in a group of 27 healthy, physically inactive men aged 65. The subjects randomly received either 250 milligrams of resveratrol or a placebo, taken by mouth daily for eight weeks. All of the participants engaged in high-intensity exercise training during this period of time.

The results showed that there was a 45 percent greater increase in oxygen uptake in the placebo group, compared to the resveratrol group. The researchers also found that resveratrol appeared to blunt the positive effects of exercise on levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Additionally, resveratrol did not appear to enhance the benefits of exercise on markers of heart health.

The authors concluded that exercise may improve several measures of heart health in older men, but that resveratrol may blunt most of these effects. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

In addition to resveratrol, many different complementary therapies have been evaluated in the prevention of heart disease. There is good scientific evidence supporting the use of avocado, barley, beans, garlic, and almonds for this purpose.

For more information about resveratrol, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Gliemann L, Schmidt JF, Olesen J, et al. Resveratrol Blunts the Positive Effects of Exercise Training on Cardiovascular Health in Aged Men. J Physiol. 2013 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print] 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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