The study found that resveratrol supplements lessened artery stiffness in some people with type 2 diabetes. Stiffening of the arteries, called arteriosclerosis, raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
"In treatment with resveratrol among people with diabetes, there was a trend toward improvement in the stiffness. And in people with higher stiffness there was more of a benefit," said lead researcher Dr. Naomi Hamburg. She is chief of the vascular biology section at Boston University School of Medicine.
While the research suggests there might be ways to improve blood vessel abnormalities in people with type 2 diabetes, it's too soon to recommend resveratrol for that purpose, said Hamburg.
"We would need a longer study to look at whether this is going to reduce heart attacks and stroke," she added. "But I think this is evidence to support future research."
For now, Hamburg said, "the overall recommendation is to have a diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables."
As you age, your arteries stiffen, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. In people with type 2 diabetes and obesity, this process starts earlier and can have more severe consequences, she said.
The body's largest artery is the aorta, which carries blood from the heart toward the rest of the body. For the study, the researchers measured the aortic thickness of 57 patients with type 2 diabetes (age 56 and obese, on average). The investigators also conducted tests to measure blood-vessel health.
Some patients were given resveratrol supplements, while the others were given a placebo. Overall, the study found a trend toward less aortic stiffness in participants taking resveratrol supplements, but it wasn't statistically significant.
However, in a subset of 23 patients who had an exceptionally stiff aorta at the start of the study, 100-milligram (mg) daily doses of resveratrol for two weeks reduced stiffness nearly 5 percent. That regimen was followed by 300-mg doses over two weeks, which decreased stiffness by 9 percent, the researchers said.
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