Have you heard all of the buzz about the health benefits of wine? It’s true that science appears to support this notion – at least partially – but there are a few things you should know before dashing off to your favorite vineyard.

What we’re talking about here is resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant contained in grapes. Yes, that’s right – resveratrol is present in grapes before they are ever mashed and fermented into wine. So if you don’t like wine, or want to avoid alcohol for any reason, then you can reap the benefits of resveratrol by eating grapes or drinking grape juice.

White wine also contains resveratrol, but in lower amounts than red wines like Cabernet, Merlot, or Shiraz. Of course, the decision is up to you; most people alternate different wines depending upon what goes best with their evening meal.

But what does resveratrol do? For years, many doctors advised their patients to have a glass of red wine each day to ward off heart disease. But recent studies have led to some additional surprising discoveries about resveratrol.

It appears that resveratrol may also trigger enzymes in your body called sirtuins. Sirtuins are responsible for helping the body create proteins which regenerate cells. Normally, a low-calorie diet and exercise will trigger sirtuins, but it appears that resveratrol may also activate these cell-regenerating enzymes. Remember, of course, that you can’t use wine as a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise, no matter what claims you hear to the contrary. Think of it as a supplement to your healthy lifestyle.

In layman’s terms, this means that resveratrol helps your body to fight aging. So that glass of red wine each day could do more than protect your heart. Studies have linked resveratrol to lowered risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It might also keep your skin smooth and younger-looking, provided of course that you don’t over-indulge! Remember that there can always be too much of a good thing.