New Research: Health Benefits Of Red Wine, Dark Chocolate Exaggerated

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You might want to think twice before you reach for your next glass of red wine or square of dark chocolate — if you're eating it for health reasons.

It turns out that resveratrol — that antioxidant in dark chocolate, red wine and some berries, the very compound that researchers have said boosts life-span by performing all kinds of wonders in the body — might not be doing much at all. In fact, a new study out of Johns Hopkins University shows that people with high levels of the antioxidant in their bodies aren't living longer than their peers.

Dr. Richard Semba published this new research in JAMA Internal Medicine and joined Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson to talk about what it means.

"Our study looked at natural sources of resveratrol in the diet, and we found no association between dietary intake of resveratrol and health outcomes such as heart disease and cancer and lifespan," Semba said. "We followed a group of people in Italy — right now, they're in their fifteenth year of follow-up — this is people that live in the Chianti region of Italy, right outside of Florence, and we measured resveratrol levels in their urine, which reflects their resveratrol intake. The sources of resveratrol in their diet are mostly red wine and chocolate, and we found no association between high resveratrol levels and these outcomes I spoke of."

Semba added that the jury is still out on whether taking a resveratrol supplement would provide health benefits.

"I would say don't eat chocolate and drink red wine because of the resveratrol — you should do it because you enjoy it and it enhances your life," he said.


  • Dr. Richard Semba, W. Richard Green Professor of Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and lead researcher on "Resveratrol and Mortality in Older Adults," published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

This segment aired on May 13, 2014.


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