The stilbenoids are a group of phytonutrients (plant based chemical compounds that have numerous health benefits in the human body but are not classed as essential nutrients). The 2 main stilbenoids are:
Blueberries, grapes and wine are the best natural food sources of stilbenoids but they can also be sourced from cocoa powder and peanuts in smaller amounts. Although they are not classed as essential nutrients, the stilbenoids have received a lot of praise in recent years for their ability to prevent ageing, fight disease and more. But are these claims valid? In this article I take a deeper look at these promising nutrients and provide you with 12 promising stilbenoid health benefits:
1) ACTING AS ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES:- Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection, injury, irritation or stress. It leads to heat, pain, redness and swelling as your body deals with the source of the problem. Most inflammation is positive as it shows your body is responding to a threat and repairing the damage. However, some inflammation is unnecessary and damages your body’s cells when there is no threat to deal with. The good news is that provisional studies indicate that the stilbenoids are both powerful anti-inflammatories (substances that prevent unnecessary inflammation in the body). However, further studies are needed before this can be confirmed.
2) ACTING AS ANTIOXIDANTS:- Antioxidants are substances that keep your body’s cells safe from free radicals. Free radicals are damaging substances that are released into your body’s cells during oxygen based reactions. They have been linked with cancer, diabetes, premature ageing and a weak immune system. Fortunately, the stilbenoids are both powerful antioxidants that can protect you from the unpleasant effects of free radicals.
3) ACTING AS ANTITOXICS:- Toxins are poisonous substance that are produced within living organisms. The good news is that early evidence has shown that resveratrol may be an antitoxic (a substance that fights toxins) and help protect you from these natural poisons. However, additional research is required before these effects can be confirmed.
4) BOOSTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:- As you age, your mental health often suffers. Fortunately, the stilbenoids may be able to help in this area. Early studies indicate that pterostilbene may be able to prevent mental deterioration whilst resveratrol may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (a mental disorder which leads to the loss of memory, thought and speech). However, further evidence is required before these effects can be confirmed.
5) EXTENDING LIFE EXPECTANCY:- People who eat a lot of calories are more susceptible to health disorders such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. As a result they have a lower than average life expectancy. Fortunately, resveratrol may be able to help in this area. Provisional research has shown that this stilbenoid may be able to counter the effects of a high calorie diet and increase the life expectancy of people who ingest lots of calories. However, more evidence is needed before this can be confirmed.
6) HEALTHY BLOOD:- Your blood cells are crucial for the smooth running of your body. They carry oxygen to where it is needed, support the removal of waste materials and much more. The good news is that provisional studies indicate that the stilbenoids may be able to keep your blood healthy. For starters, pterostilbene may reduce blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (a type of cholesterol which can cause blockages in the arteries and increase your heart disease risk) and reduce blood levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood that increases your heart disease risk). Additionally, resveratrol may prevent atherosclerosis (a condition where hard plaques form in the artery walls, restrict the flow of blood and ultimately increase your heart disease risk) and reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol. However, more research is required before these effects can be confirmed.
7) HEALTHY KIDNEYS:- The kidneys are a crucial organ that help remove waste products from your body. Early evidence suggests that resveratrol may be able to keep them healthy by preventing kidney damage. However, additional studies are needed before this can be confirmed.
8) HEALTHY LIVER:- The liver is an important organ that removes harmful toxins from your body. Provisional research suggests that resveratrol may help keep it in full working order by preventing liver damage. However, more evidence is required before this benefit can be confirmed.
9) PREVENTING CANCER:- Cancer is a health disorder where the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in your body’s cells gets damaged and causes your cells to grow in a rapid, out of control way. This ultimately leads to the formation of a tumour which may become cancerous. If it does become cancerous, it then spreads to other areas of the body and damages the cells that surround it. The good news is that both pterostilbene and resveratrol may help prevent this nasty condition. However, further studies are needed before their cancer fighting properties can be confirmed.
10) PREVENTING DIABETES:- Diabetes is a health disorder that develops when either your body’s cells stop responding to insulin (a hormone that allows your cells to take glucose from the blood) or your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. If left untreated, diabetes can seriously damage your body’s cells and vital organs. Fortunately, the stilbenoids may help you avoid this nasty disease with provisional evidence suggesting that both pterostilbene and resveratrol could prevent diabetes. However, additional research is required before these effects can be confirmed.
11) PREVENTING HEART DISEASE:- Heart disease is 1 of the main reasons for premature deaths in the UK. Fortunately, early research suggests that the stilbenoids can help you avoid this nasty disease. Pterostilbene may help by reducing blood levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides whilst resveratrol may help by preventing atherosclerosis and reducing blood levels of LDL cholesterol. However, further evidence is needed before these benefits can be confirmed.
12) PREVENTING ULTRAVIOLET (UV) DAMAGE:- UV rays are invisible rays of energy from the sun. Prolonged exposure to these rays can be damage your skin and sometimes lead to skin cancer. The good news is that provisional studies indicate resveratrol may protect against UV damage. However, more studies are required before this can be confirmed.
STILBENOID BENEFITS SUMMARY
Whilst the stilbenoids have a lot of potential when it comes to human health, it is important to remember that the research on these promising nutrients is still in the very early stages. Currently, no clinical trials have been performed on humans so more research is required before their health benefits can be confirmed. Despite this, you should still try to get your fill of natural stilbenoids by eating more blueberries, eating more grapes and treating yourself to the occasional glass of wine. These health boosting foods are rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals and could also let you take advantage of some very promising stilbenoid health benefits.