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What is resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a unique phytonutrient that is found in grapes, cranberries, blueberries, peanuts, jackfruit, mulberries, bilberries, lingonberries, and a wide range of other non-food plants including flowers and trees. Most of the research on resveratrol has been done on animals or in laboratory studies involving tissue extracts, and, for this reason, scientists are not yet certain about the health benefits of resveratrol for humans who consume ordinary amounts of resveratrol-containing foods. However, there has been increasing interest in this phytonutrient (technically called a polyphenol phytoalexin) in relationship to the "French paradox," a situation in which red wine drinking among French citizens has appeared to decrease risk of heart disease, despite the alcohol content of the wine. Resveratrol clearly functions in the body as an antioxidant nutrient, and it also may have an important role to play as a phytoestrogen.

From a practical standpoint, your best way to increase intake of resveratrol is to include red grapes, along with other resveratrol-containing foods, in your diet on a more regular basis. Enjoying an occasional glass of red wine might also be in order, depending upon the advice of your physician with respect to alcohol intake. Remember that the resveratrol is concentrated in the skin of the grape, so don't waste your time peeling your grapes before you eat them. Also, non-alcoholic red wine appears to have as much resveratrol as its alcohol-containing counterpart, so you might want to consider adding this beverage to your diet if you would like to increase your intake of resveratrol.

If you do decide to try and increase your resveratrol intake by increasing your intake of grapes, here are a few quick ways to enjoy them:

  • Choose red or purple grapes instead of green ones. Although green grapes contain resveratrol, they contain much less that the red or purple varieties.
  • Frozen grapes are delicious as a snack treat.
  • Serve stewed and spiced grapes with poached chicken breast for a light and healthy entrée.
  • Grapes are a wonderful addition to any fruit salad. For an enhanced visual effect, consider using a few different varieties of grapes.
  • Give your curries a fruity punch by including fresh grapes in the recipe.
  • Add sliced grapes to mixed green salads.
  • Serve an elegant, yet simple, snack of grapes and low-fat organic cheese.

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