You may have heard of resveratrol, a miracle antioxidant found in grape skins (and many other foods) that’s linked to a lower risk of heart disease and enhanced longevity. Unlike other antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which give blueberries their color and are an integral part of the fruit, plants produce resveratrol only in response to fungal or bacterial attack. That’s right — resveratrol is a natural antibiotic and fungicide that’s intelligently synthesized by the grape plant in order to survive a biological attack!
This means that the more natural fungi and bacteria a plant is exposed to, the more resveratrol it will produce. That’s why if a grape plant is repeatedly sprayed with synthetic fungicides — and grapes are among the most pesticide-intensive crops cultivated — the resveratrol content in the fruit will be lower. Conventionally-grown grapes, in other words, contain relatively low levels of resveratrol. Wild grapes, on the other hand, contain enormous quantities of resveratrol (because that’s how they survive in the wild).
That alone may be incentive enough to buy organic grapes and wines, because resveratrol may also help maintain “healthy programmed cell death,” which means a process by which cancer cells commit “suicide” and kill themselves. (This helps prevent cancer from growing.) Studies have also shown that resveratrol can make chemotherapy more effective, weaken viruses including influenza and HIV, counter the effects of a high-fat diet and increase physical endurance. Perhaps most miraculously, resveratrol supplements appear to extend the lifespan of yeast, worms and even fish.
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