May 13th, 2014
10:48 AM ET

New Study: Red Wine and Dark Chocolate Won’t Save Your Life

Remember a few years ago scientists believed that drinking red wine and eating chocolate would help us all to live longer?

Well, a new study looking at the impact of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skin and dark chocolate, says that it may not be the fountain of youth so many people hoped it would be.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says these findings should let people know things like dark chocolate and red wine can be incorporated into a fuller Mediterranean diet, but don't count on them to be your magic source of health and vitality.

"There is never, ever going to be that one pill that's going to change everything and make you healthy," Dr. Steinbaum says.

wine glasses

The study:  

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Barcelona tracked 783 men and women aged 65 or older.

They used urine samples to measure resveratrol levels every 24 hours for nine years.

Results showed resveratrol levels did not have a substantial influence on heart disease, cancer, inflammation, or longevity.

Dr. Steinbaum adds context saying it's important to note they talked about the Western diet.

"The Western diet in itself is not healthiest thing in the world, so that's significant," she says.

What is the "French Paradox": 

The "French Paradox" may be what started all the hype around red wine years ago.

It is a hypothesis that says that resveratrol intake, through heavy wine consumption, is the reason the French have low rates of cardiovascular disease, despite a diet rich in fatty foods.

Basically, the French drink lots of red wine, therefore they are healthy, despite all the cheese and baguettes they enjoy too.

This new research doesn't overturn the "French Paradox" altogether, as Dr. Steinbaum says other chemical compounds in red wine and chocolate could still offer health benefits.

Takeaways: 

For people who don't get the antioxidant resveratrol in their diet, they may look to supplements. Dr. Steinbaum said Americans spend $30 million per year on these extras.

With this new study, she suggests "stop wasting your money."

However, incorporating antioxidants that can be found in items like cocoa and berries are great for you as part of a balanced, Mediterranean diet, Dr. Steinbaum says. 

But the best health advice she can give?

Eat everything in moderation, and get out there and sweat.

"People who are losing weight, what are they doing?" she asks. "They're going out exercising ... You've got to do the work."

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READ:  Antioxidant in red wine has no benefit at low doses

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Kenny

    Correct headline "red wine and dark chocolate may save your safe, but not due to resveratrol"
    Short summary : don't take the pills, drink red wine and eat dark cholocate instead🙂

    September 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  2. ColKlink

    The study done with PILLS not grapes and dark chocolate.

    May 18, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  3. John

    A study done in 2010 by the American College of Cardiology showed that antioxidants/reservatrol weren't the only aspect of wine/alcohol that improved cardiac morbidity/mortality. The alcohol molecule itself changed the way the liver processed lipids in the blood. So this is nothing new and moderate alcohol consumers do have lower cardiac mortality than non drinkers and excessive drinkers.

    May 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  4. Anne Immelnut

    Red wine & dark chocolate may not save your life but they make it a lot more fun!

    May 13, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  5. Ian Welch

    “Beware of Studies

    Seriously, it seems there are more studies than news; or is it the news is composed of studies? Each day hundreds of studies are disseminated throughout the globe at the speed of light. 99% of the studies are not peer-reviewed, nor are they examined for scientific accuracy or more importantly scrutinized for bias.

    It is easy to sway an opinion. All you need is someone with credentials, research supporting your opinion and a delivery mechanism. Once the study is on the newswire, it is out there; no matter how inaccurate or slanted it is. And you can bet within hours it is water cooler chatter: “Hey, did you hear smoking is good for you? A new study today found a 100 year old man who smokes three packs a day, attributes his health to cigarettes.” Really? Who funded the study? “Uhh. It said a farmers public relations group from Winston-Salem, North Carolina…”

    Studies are a very important part of a broad marketing strategy for any product. If you are going to launch a new berry that enhances sexual performance, found only in Antarctica, you better have a couple studies showing the sexual prowess of penguins in the region. Better yet, a study showing the effects of the berries on college kids on Spring Break.

    Full comment: http://wholefed.org/2012/09/09/a-new-study-shows-99-of-all-studies/

    Ian Welch

    May 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  6. Richard M

    Such studies are highly biased by the population sampled, the reliability of sampling methods, the range(s) of dose, inherent assumptions of linearity in dose or other factors, and the length of the study in relation to the decades-long development of atherosclerosis. The latter, in particular, is a key failing of this study. The fatty streak lesion that precedes the development of the disease is the actual site where drugs acting against free radicals are thought to act. We've known since treating US casualties in the Korean war that this lesion is seen in teenagers and young adults. In fact, one study found the lesions in the fetus. However, morbidity and mortality typically occur in the 50's to 70's, at least three decades later. For this reason, standard populations studies which characteristically span 5 year or less are wholly inadequate to evaluate what they thing they're evaluating.

    May 13, 2014 at 11:23 am | Reply

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