BALITMORE, Md. — After many years of research indicating red wine is good for us, there is new research just released by Johns Hopkins University that indicates an antioxidant found red wine doesn’t reduce deaths, cardiovascular disease or cancer.
That antioxidant, long-believed to be beneficial, is called resveratrol and is found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries. Researchers documented it’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Today’s research indicates “these foods may still be good for you, but resveratrol is not the reason.”
Researchers studied Italians who consume a diet rich in resveratrol and found they live no longer than, and are just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer, as those who eat or drink smaller amounts of the antioxidant.
“The story of resveratrol turns out to be another case where you get a lot of hype about health benefits that doesn’t stand the test of time,” says Richard D. Semba, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study described May 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine. “The thinking was that certain foods are good for you because they contain resveratrol. We didn’t find that at all.”
Semba adds that some people do benefit from red wine, dark chocolate and berries when it comes to protecting the heart and reducing inflammation. But “it’s just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those foodstuffs,” he says. “These are complex foods, and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol.”
This international study followed 783 people over the age of 65 for 15 years. You can find the complete findings here.
Kai Sun, M.S., a Johns Hopkins statistician, worked on the research. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging (NIA), the New England Research Institutes, the University of Barcelona in Spain, the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain, Azienda Sanitaria in Italy and the Instituto Nazionale di Ripose e Cura per Anziani V.E.II.-Instituto di Recovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico in Italy also contributed to the study.
The work was supported by grants from the NIA (R01 AG027012), the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (R01 HL094507), the Italian Ministry of Health, the Spanish government and the NIA Intramural Research Program.