Resveratrol, that anti-oxidant that is very heart-friendly, seems to positively affect blood sugar levels, too, thus can be a potential anti-diabetic agent. This is according to several studies whose results were presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Resveratrol is found in red wine, grapes, dark berries, cacao and certain nuts. It is one of the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet that makes it heart-friendly.
Previous studies in mice have shown that this grape extract and component of red wine can help fight diabetes. Current studies in humans show promising results.
One small pilot study had participants consisting of 10 patients who were given resveratrol supplementation at high doses – i.e. amounts that are even higher than what is found in wine, grapes and peanuts. The results were very encouraging: resveratrol supplementation lowered post-meal glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
According to study author Dr. Jill Crandall, associate professor of clinical medicine and director of the Diabetes Clinical Trials Unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine:
“The results of this pilot study are preliminary and need to be confirmed in larger numbers of patients. However, we are encouraged by these findings and plan to conduct additional studies to further explore the potential utility of resveratrol in improving glucose metabolism.”
Another study looked at the effect of resveratrol in overweight, middle-aged insulin resistant patients. Using a highly sensitive measurement technique, the research team of Prof. Meredith Hawkins detected a 40% improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Not only does resveratrol regulate blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity, it also helps prevents complications such as heart disease and retinopathy. So how does resveratrol fight diabetes?
According to Dr. Matt Whiteman, researcher at the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, Peninsula Medical School:
Resveratrol’s antioxidant effects in the test tube are well documented but our research shows the link between high levels of glucose, its damaging effect on cell structure, and the ability of resveratrol of protect against and mend that damage… Resveratrol or related compounds could be used to block the damaging effect of glucose which in turn might fight the often life threatening complications that accompany diabetes. It could well be the basis of effective diet-based therapies for the prevention of vascular damage caused by hyperglycaemia in the future.”
However, before downing bottles of red wine, we should keep in mind that alcoholic drinks come with health risks, especially for those with diabetes. The safest source of resveratrol is probably red grapes, especially the skin.