MADISON, Wis., June 4 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say low doses of resveratrol -- found in red wine -- may solve the "French paradox" of why the French have good hearts despite a high-fat diet.
Senior author Richard Weindruch of the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds low doses of resveratrol mimic the effects of what is known as caloric restriction -- diets with 20 percent to 30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet. Numerous studies have shown fewer calories can extend lifespan and blunt the effects of aging.
The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science One, shows that resveratrol in low doses and beginning in middle age can elicit many of the same benefits as a reduced-calorie diet in mice.
In short, a glass of wine or food or supplements that contain even small doses of resveratrol are likely to represent "a robust intervention in the retardation of cardiac aging," the authors said in a statement.
The finding may also explain the heart health of people who live in some regions of France where diets are high in saturated fats but heart disease is uncommon. In France, meals are traditionally complemented with a glass of red wine, the researchers say.
Researchers in France last year found Concord grape juice stimulated an arterial relaxation effect in a similar fashion to red wine. Dr. Valerie Schini-Kerth of the Universite Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, France, found Concord grape juice stimulated the production of nitric oxide in endothelial cells, providing a vasorelaxation effect. Nitric oxide is important in the body's natural system for maintaining healthy, flexible blood vessels and helps support healthy blood pressure.