Introduction of Resveratrol2010-02-12
Japanese should be given the credits for intriguing the Cornell researchers to look for resveratrol in the wine. Influenced by the traditional Chinese medicine, Japanese love to analyze the active ingredients in the herbal medicines. They found the Giant Knotweed Rhizome in the herbs originally use to enhance the blood circulation to lower the blood fat. They isolated the active ingredient by the modern technology and finally discovered resveratrol.
★ Arichi H, et al. Effects of stilbene components of the roots of Polygonum cuspidatum. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 1982; 30: 1766–1770. (http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110003634507/ )。
This compound was initially isolated in 1939 by Takaoka from the Veratrum Grandiflorum, a plant brought to Japan from Europe before World War II. He determined its molecular structure and published the finding in a Japanese journal in chemistry called Nippon Kagaku Kaichi, where he named the molecule “resveratrol” which means resorcinol from veratrum. Resveratrol is a white powder (Figure 3 upper right) with the molecular weight of 228.25 and simple structure (Figure 3 upper middle). It is one of the simplest plant polyphenols.
★ Takaoka, M. Resveratrol, a new phenolic compound from Veratrum grandiflorum. Nippon Kagaku Kaichi 1939; 60:1090-1100. (in Japanese)
The Japanese research on active ingredients in Giant Knotweed Rhizome did not attract much attention, although it was conducted 10 years earlier than the Cornell research on resveratrol content in the wine. Only when the Americans detected resveratrol in the wine and found its content highest in the red wines the French drank, people realized resveratrol may be the key factor to explain the “French Paradox”. More researchers then ventured into the resveratrol research field. This has led to the systematic discovery of potential health benefits of resveratrol on animals and humans.
Resveratrol is synthesized in at least 70 plants, many being common food including grape (wine), peanut, pineapple and mulberry. Plant polyphenols have multiple hydroxyl groups on the benzene ring (Figure 3 upper middle). These hydroxyl groups can be oxidized to display their anti-oxidant effect, which is stronger than vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and just next to catotenoids, lycopene for example. Peanut can be found in our daily diets. It is also known as “longevity nut”, meaning its consumption helps increase life expectancy. It used to be an essential food during Chinese New Year decades ago. Now the miracle has been solved – peanut contains high amount of resveratrol, and that is why it gives us “long life”.
★ Sobolev VS & Cole RJ. trans-Resveratrol content in commercial peanuts and peanut products. J. Agric. Food Chem., 1999; 47: 1435–1439. (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jf9809885 ) 。
Resveratrol has essentially countless health benefits. Initially, it was found to reduce blood fat, and help treat hypertension. Later people found it has the effect of inhibiting the abnormal aggregation of platelets (anti-clotting), vascular dilation, improve microcirculation. It can also help prevent coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, smoothen the brain blood vessels and extend the braining working time. In addition, it enhances the immunity, and provides anti-bacteria, anti-viral replication, antiseptic and anti-allergenic effects. It is next to impossible to list all the functions of resveratrol. Here we are going to introduce the main health effects of resveratrol on human.
- Next chapter：Resveratrol Prevents Against Cardiovascular Disease