Like many of my patients, you likely have heard of resveratrol – the incredible antioxidant contained in purple grapes and red wine that has shown promise in preventing disease as well as longevity studies. However, as great as resveratrol is, I’ve recently started telling my patients about a chemically similar, yet even more powerful antioxidant – pterostilbene – pronounced “taro stilbene”. I’d like to share with you what I’ve been telling my patients about this off the scale superantioxidant.
Pterostilbene – A Rock Star Antioxidant
The name kind of sounds like a prehistoric bird, as one of my patients humorously commented. No, rather, pterostilbene is an antioxidant compound found mostly in blueberries that is far more reaching than resveratrol and that’s saying a lot. Both resveratrol and pterostilbene belong to phytolexins the same family of compounds – stilbenes – and both contain plant chemicals called which fight infections. However, recent studies have shown pterostilbene to out-perform resveratrol in a few areas – notably improving mental functions, controlling blood sugar levels and improving heart health.
To begin with, pterostilbene is apparently more lipophilic than resveratrol – meaning it works with fat cells better. That characteristic makes it a more useable brain antioxidant as the brain consists of a higher percentage of fat cells than other tissue. In fact, pterostilbene was found in higher concentrations in both blood and brain tissue than resveratrol.
Although drinking a few glasses of red wine a day (resveratrol) has been thought possible to improve cognitive decline, consuming blueberries, or supplements containing pterostilbene, has proven in animal studies to neutralize cognitive decline.
In addition, much more resveratrol is necessary to accomplish what pterostilbene does at a lower dose. One of the reasons for this is that resveratrol is cleared out of the body much more quickly, i.e., within 30 to 60 minutes of taking it. Studies have shown that resveratrol is rapidly metabolized by mammals and needs something to protect it during metabolism so all its great health boosting qualities are not lost. Frequently, it is combined with pterostilbene to do just that.
Pterostilbene is absorbed more easily and is metabolized much more slowly than resveratrol. In this way, it is being thought of by researchers as a much longer-acting version of resveratrol. More and more research is suggesting that it may be much more beneficial for people to simply take pterostilbene on its own.
What Does Pterostilbene Do?
Based on animal studies done with pterostilbene, it has been shown to have the following health boosting properties:
- Anticancer – high antioxidant properties means higher protection against DNA and telomere damage. Shown also to have an inhibitory effect against a form of cytochrome P450, an enzyme that activates “procarcinogens” that turns toxins (cigarette smoke and pesticides into cancers). Specifically, studies show that pterostilbene may be beneficial in fighting breast, digestive and colon cancers.
- Anti–inflammatory – inflammation leads to many diseases. Antioxidants like pterostilbene reverse inflammation.
- Anti high cholesterol, high triglycerides – animals fed blueberries were found to have lower blood levels of lipids and cholesterol. Reported to be more effective than some cholesterol lowering drugs.
- Fights cognitive decline – animals fed pterostilbene containing blueberries showed significant reversal in mental decline from aging versus strawberries and spinach.
- Normalized blood sugar and insulin levels – antidiabetic. Effects reported are similar to the drug metformin in optimizing insulin output/usage.
How Can I Get The Health Benefits of Pterostilbene?
The most prominent food source of pterostilbene is grapes and blueberries. However, you’d have to eat quite a bit of these foods a day to get a useful amount of pterostilbene. Rather, I recommend a good pterostilbene supplement at a dosage of between 50-100 mg a day.
Or, you may take a resveratrol/pterostilbene combination, often known as “optimized resveratrol.” However, consult your doctor if you wish to use pterostilbene to target specific conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, or cognitive issues in perhaps determining a different dosage for you. Also, be sure that you do not take your pterostilbene with milk or other dairy products as they are known to destroy the antioxidant properties of blueberries.
Antioxidants are crucial to preserving your health and preventing disease. They can also help keep you young beyond your years by fighting free radical damage in all the tissues of your body. Pterostilbene has been proven in research studies to possess powerful antioxidant capacities. It has also been shown to improve mental functions and prevent other disease. I feel pterostilbene, like resveratrol, has a place in our disease and age-fighting arsenal of supplements. It can help you stay youthful and healthy, with sharp mental functions, well into old age!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Photo Credit: health.slides.kaboose.com
Resveratrol vs Pterostilbene and Mental Functions, http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Resveratrol-may-boost-mental-functions-but-pterostilbene-may-be-even-better-Animal-studies