FoodFacts.com has always included information in our blog posts about the benefits of the antioxidants found in natural, fresh fruits and vegetables. There have been so many good things to tell our community about the benefits of these compounds. The antioxidant resveratrol has made news in the last year for the possibility of its anti-aging properties. It’s found in red wine, red grapes, as well as peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Resveratrol has been associated with the protection of the heart and circulatory system, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as reducing the risk of certain cancers. All great news!
But now, new research at The University of Copenhagen surprisingly suggests that eating a diet rich in antioxidants may actually counteract many of the health benefits of exercise, including reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.
In contrast to earlier studies in animals in which resveratrol improved the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, this study in humans has provided surprising and strong evidence that in older men, resveratrol has the opposite effect.
While antioxidants like resveratrol have plenty of positive effects on our health, this information seems to point to the idea that some degree of oxidant stress might be necessary for the body to work correctly. So too much of this good thing might actually be detrimental to our health.
The study comes out of the University of Copenhagen. Researchers studied 27 healthy, physically inactive men who were about 65 years of age for 8 weeks. During the study period, all of the men performed high-intensity exercise training. Half of the group received 250 mg of resveratrol daily, while the other half received a placebo. The study was double-blinded so that neither the subjects nor the scientists knew which participant received the antioxidant or the placebo.
Researchers found that the exercise training undertaken by all the participants was very effective at improving their cardiovascular health. They did discover, however that resveratrol detracted from the positive effects of the training in areas including blood pressure and oxygen uptake, among others. Scientists were surprised to find that resveratrol in older men appeared to lessen the benefits of exercise on heart health. The results contract the findings from previous animal studies. The need for larger, more extensive studies on varied age groups was noted in order to confirm the results obtained. In addition, it was noted that the resveratrol supplementation provided in this study was greater than the amounts obtained through natural food sources.
FoodFacts.com looks forward to further research regarding the effects of antioxidants on our health. This is important information regarding how these compounds work in our bodies to promote our well-being. Perhaps the “too much of a good thing” concept for resveratrol and other antioxidant compounds is related to supplementation, as opposed to obtaining these compounds through natural food sources. A balanced diet, rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can provide us with the nutrition our bodies need to remain healthy and strong throughout our lifetimes.