PROBLEM: In today's issue of The Journal of Physiology, researchers led by Dr. Lasse Gliemann at the University of Copenhagen report a needling wrinkle in our antioxidant love story.
When some plants (like grape vines) are under stress, they produce a polyphenol known as resveratrol, which you may have heard of as the "anti-aging" chemical. Resveratrol has been shown to improve cardiovascular performance and extend the lives of non-mammals and mice -- specifically improving the lipid profiles and longevity of mice who ate a lot of fat. We believe that's because of its work as an antioxidant.
The mice in that study got a boatload of resveratrol, though. Red wine has 1.5 to 3 mg of resveratrol per liter, so an average person would need to drink 1,000 liters of red wine daily to get that much. Resveratrol does come in supplement form, but is that good for humans? Some believe that a certain amount of oxidative stress is necessary, so we shouldn't drown ourselves in antioxidants.
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METHODOLOGY: Twenty-seven healthy but physically inactive men (all 65 and older) undertook intense eight-week regimens of CrossFit and circuit training. Some took 250 mg of resveratrol as well, and some took a placebo. The researchers monitored multiple metrics of cardiovascular fitness throughout the course of the exercise program.