Resveratrol is a plant compound derived from red grapes that has antioxidant-like properties. It is also present in products that are made from red grapes, such as wine and juice.

Many people use resveratrol as a health-boosting supplement. Research has linked the compound to potential health benefits such as improved brain health and blood pressure. It may also come with some side effects.

This article will explore the health benefits associated with resveratrol, side effects, when and how to consume it, and more.

Close up of grapes that contain resveratrol.Share on Pinterest
James Ross/Stocksy

Resveratrol is a compound that belongs to polyphenols’ stilbenoids group, consisting of two phenol rings that are connected by an ethylene bridge.

It is present in more than 70 plant species, primarily in the skin and seeds of red grapes. Resveratrol is also a phytoalexin, which is a protective antibiotic that plants produce under stress. Phytoalexin is what helps plants recover from fungal attacks, ultraviolet radiation, and other threatening circumstances.

When people consume reservatrol, it helps the body detoxify harmful molecules, much like antioxidants.

The human body metabolizes the compound quickly. It is fat-soluble and possesses anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, and estrogenic activity. Resveratrol is one of the main ingredients behind the health benefits of drinking red wine.

Learn more about the health benefits of red wine here.

There are many benefits associated with resveratrol, though they are mostly correlated to the compound rather than directly linked to the consumable supplement. A few of these health benefits include:

  • antioxidant effects on free radicals
  • anticancer effects
  • cardioprotective effects
  • neuroprotective effects
  • anti-inflammatory activity

Research shows that resveratrol plays a role in protecting ovarian health, and in relieving poor pulmonary function. Resveratrol notably improves glucose homeostasis, providing insulin resistance by activating sirtuin, which regulates metabolism in insulin-target organs.

In addition, resveratrol may serve as a therapeutic agent for rheumatoid arthritis, as well as for male infertility and testicular malfunction.

More research is needed, as most of the above studies were animal studies. Human studies will help shed further light on resveratrol’s potential health benefits.

People use resveratrol for a number of other maladies, although there is even less research to support the compound’s effectiveness for these ailments. These ailments include stomach aches, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, and fungal diseases. More research is needed to support these claims.

While there are comparably few side effects of resveratrol compared with the benefits, some studies show that it may behave as a pro-oxidizing agent in the body. Rather than consistently working to slow or prevent cell damage that free radicals cause, resveratrol may conversely exhibit pro-oxidant properties, leading to cellular DNA damage and oxidative stress.

Generally, if a person takes resveratrol in small quantities over the short term, they will not experience side effects. However, at doses of 2.5 grams (g) or more per day, the following side effects may occur:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • liver dysfunction.

Researchers conducting long-term clinical trials did not record any major side effects.

In research from 2016, one participant developed fever and bicytopenia (reduced blood cells) while receiving 1.5 g resveratrol per day for 6 months.

The easiest way to consume resveratrol in safe amounts is via grapes, wine, blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, and juices that contain these fruits.

Some people also take resveratrol supplements, especially for lowering blood pressure. Many of these supplements contain much higher doses of resveratrol than a person would naturally consume in food sources.

The proper dosage of resveratrol is unclear and remains under debate by medical professionals.

Clinical trials show that it is technically safe to take resveratrol in doses of up to 5 g per day, though taking more than 2.5 g per day is likely to result in abdominal side effects, such as cramping, flatulence, nausea, and more.

Research from 2015 shows that doses of less than or equal to 0.15 mg of resveratrol may be most effective in reducing pressure on artery walls to better manage blood pressure.

Overall, people have different tolerances when it comes to resveratrol, and there is no specific dose that is recommended across the board. People should talk to their doctor about the dose that might be safest and most beneficial for their body.

Resveratrol is a naturally-occurring compound present in grapes, some berries, and other fruits and nuts.

It often mimics antioxidant activity in the body, and may provide many health benefits. Research most supports its use for cardiovascular protection and blood pressure regulation.

People may consume resveratrol through their dietary selections or via supplements. The recommended dose of resveratrol is not conclusive, but high quantities may lead to gastrointestinal upset.

A doctor, dietitian, or qualified medical professional may be helpful in determining what the best amount of resveratrol is for an individual.