Tame your blood sugar with this antioxidant

Sports fans check scores as if their lives depend on them. Diabetics check blood sugar scores because their lives really do depend on them.

So naturally, many of them turn to drugs to make sure those levels stay where they need to be.

But drugs aren't always the answer here, and they're certainly not the only answer -- because there are natural approaches that can help keep blood sugar levels in check so you can reduce or even eliminate your need for those drugs.

Take resveratrol, for example, the antioxidant famously found in red wine. Studies have found it can help diabetics in a number of ways, and the latest research shows how it can help improve critical hemoglobin A1c levels.

Researchers recruited 62 patients with type-2 diabetes and gave half of them 250 mg of resveratrol to take each day along with their usual meds. After three months, hemoglobin A1c levels fell from an average of 9.99 to 9.65 in patients who were given the supplement, versus no change among those who just took their drugs.

The difference might seem small, but it's a very real one -- and one that could get even bigger when combined with other natural approaches for blood sugar control, such as cinnamon and chromium.

But let me stick to resveratrol for today, because the benefits go way beyond blood sugar levels. It can also tame blood pressure -- in diabetics and nondiabetics alike -- and in the new study, the patients who took it saw their systolic BP (that's the top number) fall from an average of 139.71 down to 127.92.

That's a difference that brings them from right on the border of hypertension down to a much more manageable number -- and, for the icing on the cake, they also saw improvements in their cholesterol levels.

Again, that's only the beginning of the benefits. In other studies, researchers have found that resveratrol can help fight everything from heart disease to cancer, and it may even help slow the aging process.

But just because this stuff is known as the "red wine antioxidant" doesn't mean you'll find it in a wineglass -- because in reality, red wine often contains just 1 mg of resveratrol or less in every glass.

You'd literally die long before you got close to the 250 mg a day used in the new study, much less the higher levels used in other research.

Fortunately, you can get your resveratrol with water instead of wine, as supplements are inexpensive and widely available -- and come with no risk of a hangover.