It’s not just an antioxidant. In fact, that aspect of it is the least intriguing.
The reason why resveratrol might be good for you is because scientists believe it activates your sirtuins. These are genes which produce enzymes of the same name.
In mammals, there are seven types of sirtuins; SIRT 1-7.
In particular, the SIRT1 may play an important role in the regulation of cellular aging.
When SIRT1 genes are activated and produce more sirtuin-1, several parameters of the cells’ aging process are positively altered. (1)
Essentially, SIRT1 activation is believed to “slow the clock” when it comes to the aging of cells.
SIRT1 activation also takes place during extreme calorie-restriction.
That’s a diet where your body is not deprived of any essential nutrients, though the total calories (energy) consumed per day is at the bare minimum.
That triggers your body to go into conservation mode. One result of that is higher SIRT gene expression.
Long term human studies to prove that have not been done and frankly, would be quite difficult to do since you can’t babysit people 24/7 for decades to monitor everything they eat and drink.
But you can with monkeys in captivity…
Believe it or not, these two monkeys are the very same age. Both are 28 years old and should be at the end of their life span.
The monkey on the left is obviously knocking at death’s door, while the one on the right looks youthful. He’s been on a calorie restricted diet since youth and as a result, higher SIRT gene expression throughout his life.
Those monkeys are part of an on-going University of Wisconsin study that begun in 1989. Similar studies have been conducted with everything from fruit flies to mice. (2)
To be clear, these monkeys were not on resveratrol supplements. The reason there is excitement about resveratrol and nicotinamide riboside is because they are activators of sirtuins, too. (3)
Granted, there is controversy. Since the anti-aging benefits haven’t been studied in humans, no one can claim with certainty that SIRT1 activation is (a) taking place, and (b) extending lifespans or promoting longevity. Likewise for all of the other health claims being made related to skin wrinkles, weight loss, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and so forth. (4)
Furthermore, even if boosting SIRT1 does help with the aging process, the research on resveratrol is limited to laboratory studies. No one can say how well (or not) it works in humans and if so, at what dosages would be required to produce noteworthy effects. However the research suggests it would probably take a lot.
In short, the benefits of resveratrol are currently unproven and for that reason, it should not be used to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Though given the fact that even pure resveratrol doesn’t seem to elicit adverse reactions, you have little to lose by consuming it. Especially since many of the plant sources of resveratrol (it’s not found in meat or dairy) are healthy in numerous other ways, so you’re getting at least something out of them no matter what.
When the media references this molecule, they’re talking about the trans-resveratrol form (3,5,4′-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene). If you want it daily, supplement with the following sources…
17 foods high in resveratrol
1. Red wine
Starting with most well-known, this natural source may be potent but it’s not ideal because of the alcohol.
Most people are unaware that alcohol, in any form and regardless of the amount, causes permanent DNA mutations in your body. Furthermore, it’s an official carcinogen. Risks for cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, breasts, colon, and liver all go up with alcohol consumption. (5)
Not exactly a trait of anti-aging!
The reason wine is a potent source of resveratrol has more to do with the fact that it’s not pasteurized or boiled, as is the case with jarred grape preserves and juices. Since heat, light, and air degrade this fragile compound, most processed foods will contain less, even when they’re made with this same fruit.
How much resveratrol in wine?
Red wines have higher content and those made with thicker-skinned grapes will have most. Your average bottle of California Pinot Noir measures as 5.01 mg of resveratrol, followed by French Beaujolais at 3.55 mg, California Zinfandel at 1.38 mg, and Californian Cabernet Sauvignon at 0.99 mg. White wine have almost none, averaging 0.20 mg per bottle. Champagne has even less.
How much resveratrol in a glass of wine?
Assuming the average serving size of 150 mL (5 ounces), one glass of wine equals 20% of a standard 750 mL bottle. That means a glass contains around 1 mg of resveratrol at best, if you’re drinking a red like Pinot Noir or Merlot. White wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are often less than 0.1 mg.
Since it’s the most famous food source, many papers have been published on the content in wine. (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
Even though wine is one of the best resveratrol sources, it pales in comparison to the amounts used in medical research.
The famous studies done by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals with obese mice used a daily dosage that would equate to the amount found in 750 to 1,500 bottles of red wine, if you adjusted it for the body weight of a 150 lb man or woman. (12)
That’s why isolated forms, rather than foods, are what’s used in most studies. For the same reason, it’s why people who want more of this molecule in their diet often turn to supplements, like this one on Amazon from Garden of Life.
2. Red grape juice
Even though amount is less than vine, it’s still a relatively rich source.
How much resveratrol in grape juice?
Juices made from red grapes will have the most, averaging 0.5 mg per liter. That equals around 0.1 mg of resveratrol per 8 oz serving. White grape juice tests as having 90% lower content at 0.05 mg per liter or 0.01 mg per glass. Processing, pasteurization, and fruit concentration are why juice has less than wine.
The benefit of this source is that it’s alcohol free but the drawback is that it has lots of sugar. (13)
Technically a legume that grows underground, these “nuts” are rarely thought of as a superfood, yet they have a moderate ORAC value that’s higher than cashews, macadamia, and some other nuts and seeds. Part of that antioxidant value is coming from the resveratrol.
How much there is in peanuts is comparable to most red wines, when you compare equal weights of each. Raw runner peanuts with their skin intact have tested out at 1.12 mg of resveratrol per 100 g (3.5 oz) serving. Raw Virginia peanuts have tested much lower, as little as 0.01 mg for the same weight. (17) (18)
In grapes it’s only in the skin but with peanuts, it’s found in all parts. Likewise for most of the foods on this list.
Roasted peanuts still have resveratrol but their content is lower. Something like Planters will have 0.006 mg per 100 g. Boiled peanuts may not be popular but they are one of the best cooked sources, coming in a surprisingly high value of 0.412 mg for the same weight. That’s over 60x the concentration of roasted! (19)
Although data isn’t available on them, their rich red skins and the fact that they’re sold raw would suggest that jungle peanuts might be the top contender.
4. Fresh grapes
Rather than drinking wine, eating grapes may be your best bet. You’re getting an alcohol-free form and since fresh fruit is unpasteurized, most of it is intact, as well as the vitamin C, which is another heat-sensitive nutrient.
How much resveratrol there is in fresh grapes ranges from 0.24 to 1.25 mg per cup (160 g) for the red varieties. Dark black grapes, such as Concord and muscadines, can sometimes have more but generally fall within this range. The green have just 0.03 mg for the same serving size. (14) (15) (16)
Don’t think this is a trend. Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts don’t have it. Aside from peanuts, this the other one and you almost never see it on lists of resveratrol foods. That’s too bad, because pistachios actually have more than peanuts.
Unlike peanuts which have dozens of published tests, only a couple exist for pistachios. The most detailed analysis of resveratrol and quercetin found they had 0.11 mg and 0.20 mg, respectively, per 100 g serving.
Now to be clear quercetin foods are not SIRT1 activators. The fact that they contain it is just one more thing to add to the list of pistachio health benefits. Several relate to anti-aging. (20)
Pistachio butter is another way to eat them.
6. Peanut butter
Even though it’s made from roasted nuts, it turns out that peanut butter is an excellent food source.
The cheap, low-end brands like Jif are Skippy are often blended with oils and therefore, have a lower amount; 0.04 mg per 100 g. Natural pure peanut butters without added oil have the most resveratrol, with amounts of 0.07 mg for the same weight. (19)
7. Cocoa powder
You’ve already heard it’s high in antioxidants. Now you have another good reason to eat it!
The resveratrol in cocoa beans (which are technically seeds) is quite high and the most potent food source made from them is raw cocoa powder. Also known as cacao, there’s 0.185 mg of trans-resveratrol per 100g (3.5 oz). On an equal weight basis that’s about half as much as your average California red wine and significantly more than roasted peanuts. (21)
Since cocoa powder actually contains very little cocoa butter (fat) this 100 g amount is not that bad for you. Sure, it’s 400 calories, though consider what comes with that…
- 26.7 g of protein
- 33.3 g of fiber, which is 120% of your daily value
- 13.3 mg of iron, which is 67% of DV
- 680 mg of magnesium, which is 167% of DV
- 0 g of sugar
- Fat and carbs that are only 13% and 20% of DV, respectively
With nutrients like that, you canmix it with some juice and make it into a natural meal replacement shake.
Those nutrition facts are why more than one of us here at Superfoodly gets recurring shipments of cocoa powder through the Subscribe and Save for Navitas Organics on Amazon.
8. Dark chocolate
It has a lot less than raw cocoa powder. It’s also a lot more calories since the butter is left intact.
On average, dark chocolate contains 0.035 mg per 100g serving. (21)
Coincidentally, that is the same weight as your average chocolate bar (3.5 ounces) from brands like Ghirardelli, Lindt, Green & Black’s Organic, and Endangered Species. Each of those will be 550 to 600 calories per bar.
9. Milk chocolate
You can guess the direction this trend is going… it’s very low at 0.01 mg per 100g. Sugar, milk, and now another reason to not eat the milky version! (21)
Every article out there seems to tout grapes which doesn’t make sense, because strawberries actually have more than many types of grapes!
A 100 g serving of raw strawberries has 0.35 mg of resveratrol. That compares to 0.15 mg for fresh black grapes and 0.02 mg for green/white grapes. Red grapes however typically have more than strawberries. (22) (23) (24)
11. Jackfruit skin
Jackfruit is in the same tree family as figs and mulberries (Moraceae). In recent years the pulp has become a popular vegan meat substitute for tacos and dishes that use shredded carne asade.
The bad news? The pulp and seed contains very little.
However if you can get your hands on jackfruit skin and find the texture edible enough to eat without cooking, then eating it raw will give you 0.356 mg per 100 g. That’s about same as strawberry which undoubtedly, are much tastier and easier to acquire! (25)
With 0.383 mg per 100 g, the amount of resveratrol in fresh raw blueberries is slightly higher than that of strawberries. (26)
More impressive is the 0.059 mg of pterostilbene. (27)
That’s another type of stilbene which is similar to resveratrol and even rarer in foods. Despite the small amount present, the pterostilbene benefits may even be better.
Also known as the European blueberry, the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is in the same plant genus as the American blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). They’re so closely related that it’s debatable as to which berry hast the most resveratrol.
One test found 0.67 mg of resveratrol per 100 g of raw bilberries, which would suggest it has more. However another test using highbush blueberries from Michigan came back with nearly double the amount of bilberries from Poland. (28) (29)
The takeaway? Eat whichever is local to you. If you’re in the UK, France or Germany and have easier access to bilberries, go with them. For Americans, blueberries are in plentiful supply.
14. Red currants
This fruit handedly beats blueberries and bilberries. At 1.57 mg of resveratrol per 100 g, red currants even beats many of the best wine sources, which will have around 30% less per glass. (30)
Coming from the same plant genus as blueberries but with a distinctly different color and taste, cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccus L) clock in even higher at 1.92 mg of resveratrol per 100 g. (31)
If you eat that amount, you’re getting around 200% of how much there is in a glass of red wine.
Here in the United States and Canada, the only place you will regularly encounter this berry is at an Ikea store in the form of lingonberry jam. That’s been heated and doused with sugar so it’s a terrible source.
If you can get your hands on the fresh berries, they will provide a big dosage of resveratrol; 3 mg per 100 g. (32)
Since it grows best in the boreal forests and Arctic tundra, about the only commercial cultivation that takes place in the U.S. is in the Pacific Northwest. Only a couple suppliers that we are aware of.
Your best bet is to turn to Amazon and buy NordicNordic lingonberry powder. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse with no added sugars, colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Last and certainly not least we come to this deliciously sweet berry, which is much more popular in the United Kingdom and Europe than it is in the US.
What foods have the highest resveratrol?
The amount in fresh mulberries is more than red wine, grape juice, peanuts, cocoa, blueberries and lingonberries. At 5 mg of resveratrol per 100 g, mulberries are the richest natural food source. You would have to drink an entire bottle of Pinot Noir to get that same amount. (25)
Even though you’re unlikely to find them for sale fresh, that’s not a problem because the dried are readily available.
Since the resveratrol holds up well in sun dried fruit, the amount in dried mulberries is probably even higher, since 100 g dried equals a lot more berries, as most of the water weight has evaporated. Though precise testing to measure the amount in the dried has not yet been published.
Here at Superfoodly all of us eat mulberries daily. Literally every single day. They go great on oatmeal, cereal, or mixed with raw nuts for a healthy DIY trail mix. We find that the best deal on them is Terrasoul Superfoods organic 4 pack (4 lbs total) which you can get on Amazon.
Top resveratrol supplements
Manufacturers will either synthesize it in the lab or extract it from the root of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). Its scientific synonym is Fallopia japonica and in Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s known as Hu Zhang. (33)
Whatever you want to call it, the Japanese knotweed plant is not a food on its own because it contains emodin, which is a natural laxative. That’s why the highest quality supplements have to extract the compound using an alcoholic solution, so very little emodin ends up in the finished product.
If you need some recommendations, here are some good resveratrol supplements that are reasonably priced:
- NOW Foods – 200 mg per 1 veggie capsule.
- Purest Vantage – Per 2 veggie capsule dosage, you get 600 mg of resveratrol which is part of a 1,400 mg polyphenol complex.
- Reserveage – 500 mg per 1 veggie capsule, in a 4-hour sustained released formulation.
Each of the above is a gluten free and vegan friendly supplement.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.