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For long we've been told about the great health values of wine and chocolate thanks to an antioxidant it contains called resveratrol but a new study suggests that the supposed health benefits are just a myth. A study conducted by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore found that the antioxidant had no effect on ageing, heart disease or cancer.
'The story of resveratrol turns out to be another case where you get a lot of hype about health benefits that doesn't stand the test of time,' says Richard D. Semba, a professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study. 'The thinking was that certain foods are good for you because they contain resveratrol. We didn't find that at all.'
The researchers studied a group of 783 Italians who regularly consumed a diet which included red wine, dark chocolate nad berries and found that that subjects didn't live any longer and were just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer as those who consumed lesser amounts of the antioxidant. The study was published in the May 12 issue of the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Despite the negative results, Semba says, studies have shown that consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and berries does reduce inflammation in some people and still appears to protect the heart. 'It's just that the benefits, if they are there, must come from other polyphenols or substances found in those foodstuffs,' he says. 'These are complex foods, and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol.'
Semba is part of an international team of researchers who that for 15 years has studied the effects of ageing in a group of people who live in the Chianti region of Italy. Urine samples from people showed that even those with the highest concentration of resveratrol metabolites didn't show any great benefit of those with no resveratrol metabolites in their urine. Excitement over resveratrol stems from its believed health benefits after studies found an increased lifespan in mice fed a high-calorie diet rich in the compound.
What are antioxidants?
Our body has many free radicals (molecules produced when the body breaks down food or due to smoking, drinking, etc) and antioxidants are substances which prevent our cells from the damage caused by the action of these free radicals. Antioxidants can be found in various foods and including them in your diet can protect you from various ailments and also slow the ageing process. The free radicals attack the healthy cells of our body to stablise themselves but in this process, give rise to more such free radicals.
But when there are antioxidants present in the body, they deactivate them before they can attack healthy cells. This is why they are an important compound needed by the body. They can be found in our everyday foods like fruits, vegetables, berries and nuts. Red wine and dark chocolate are also good sources of antioxidants and so are green tea and coffee. Foods which are high in vitamin C and E are excellent to get your dose of antioxidants.
Apart from food, the body also generates antioxidant enzymes of its own. Damage caused by free radicals can result in poor immune system, ageing and severe diseases like heart disease. So have foods rich in antioxidants in your meals and protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals.
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