Drinking a glass of red wine with dinner or adding some of the delicious drink to your food may be a good idea, for a new study has found that low doses of resveratrol, a natural constituent present in it, helps keep the heart young.
Resveratrol is a natural constituent of grapes, pomegranates, red wine and other foods and is know to have a widespread influence on the genetic levers of aging and confer special protection on the heart.
On the basis of an animal study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that resveratrol in low doses and beginning in middle age can elicit many of the same benefits as a reduced-calorie diet - diets with 20-30 percent fewer calories than a typical diet.
"Resveratrol is active in much lower doses than previously thought and mimics a significant fraction of the profile of caloric restriction at the gene expression level," says Tomas Prolla, a UW-Madison professor of genetics and a senior author of the new report.
The group explored the influence of the agent on heart, muscle and brain by looking for changes in gene expression in those tissues.
They compared the genetic crosstalk of animals on a restricted diet with those fed small doses of resveratrol, and found that while low doses of resveratrol thwarted age-related change in 92 percent of heart genes.
The new findings, say the study's authors, were associated with prevention of the decline in heart function associated with aging.
In other words, a glass of wine or food or supplements that contain even small doses of resveratrol are likely to represent "a robust intervention in the retardation of cardiac aging."
The study is also important as it suggests that caloric restriction and resveratrol may govern the same master genetic pathways related to aging.
"There must be a few master biochemical pathways activated in response to caloric restriction, which in turn activate many other pathways. And resveratrol seems to activate some of these master pathways as well," said Prolla.
The research appears in the online, open-access journal Public Library of Science One.