Resveratrol — a natural compound found in chocolate, red wine, and other foods — has been shown to boost heart health in many studies. Now, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute think they know how and why.
In new research published online in the journal Nature, researchers found that resveratrol triggers the activation of a host of protective genes — including the tumor-suppressing gene known scientifically as p53 and two longevity genes (called FOXO3A and SIRT6).
"This stress response represents a layer of biology that has been largely overlooked, and resveratrol turns out to activate it at much lower concentrations than those used in prior studies," said researcher Paul Schimmel.
"With these findings we have a new, fundamental mechanism for the known beneficial effects of resveratrol," added co-researcher Mathew Sajish.
Resveratrol is a compound produced in grapes, cacao beans, Japanese knotweed, and other plants in response to stresses including infection, drought, and ultraviolet radiation.
It has become a focus of scientific and popular interest over the past decade, as researchers have reported that it can extend lifespan and prevent such conditions as diabetes and heart disease.
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