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Red Wine, Chocolate Won’t Help Us Live Longer

Resveratrol was the great gift to lovers of red wine and chocolate.

This powerful antioxidant “was eventually isolated from red wine, as well as cocoa, red grapes, and a variety of other berries and roots,” says Dr. Francis Collins, director of the federal National Institutes of Health, in a May 20 blog post. “After that, a steady stream of studies in cells and various animal models showed that resveratrol reduced inflammation and seemed to protect against the unhealthy effects of a high-fat diet.”

A glass of Pinot Noir in the evening, while you munch  delicately on a bar of dark chocolate, and you are guaranteed a long and healthy life.

Alas, the dream is gone.

Dr. Collins says a large scale study in Italy, suitably named InChianti (for Aging in the Chianti Region) shows ” no significant differences in heart disease, cancer, or longevity between those who consumed a diet high in resveratrol and those who consumed very little.” The study looked at “783 men and women age 65 or older from a famed wine-making area of central Italy. Over the past 16 years, these volunteers have donated blood and urine, undergone regular medical exams, and answered dietary and lifestyle questionnaires—all part of an effort to better understand a wide range of factors involved in health aging.”

No substantial difference in health status among those with high levels or low levels of resveratrol. “What’s more, researchers found that levels of resveratrol varied widely among the 268 volunteers who died between 1998 and 2009,” Collins wrote.  “All told, the researchers say their findings suggest that a diet high in resveratrol did not protect against disease or extend lifespan.”

Let’s study the problem some more, says Collins. Maybe it’s a question of dosage; perhaps a single glass of red wine doesn’t give you enough resveratrol.

He does end his remarks on a positive note : “Finally, the InCHIANTI study does contain some good news for all of you wine lovers and chocoholics (in moderation, of course). Consuming a diet rich in resveratrol may not have been associated with better health and longer life in Italy, but it apparently didn’t hurt matters either.”

You heard what the doctor says. It won’t hurt you.



Written by Bob Rosenblatt

Bob Rosenblatt is a researcher, writer and journalist who helps people looking for up-to-date answers and information on the perplexing issues at the intersection of finances and aging. Bob publishes a weekly report — please take a moment to subscribe in the upper right hand corner of this page.

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