New Insights into Dietary Pterostilbene: Sources, Metabolism, and Health Promotion Effects

Pterostilbene  is a chemical component found in plants. It is a polyphenol with a structure similar to resveratrol. However, due to subtle structural differences, Zitanqi has higher lipid solubility. This difference enhances the bioavailability of Astragalus roseus. Generally speaking, animal studies have found that the health effects of Pterostilbene  are similar but stronger than those of resveratrol.

Pterostilbene  is well absorbed, easily distributed throughout the body, and can cross the blood-brain barrier – these factors are unusual for many natural, health promoting polyphenols. Curcumin, a polyphenol from turmeric, is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but its absorption effect from the digestive tract is very poor. Quercetin, another polyphenol, is also difficult to absorb. This gives Pterostilbene advantages over other polyphenolic substances in medical use..

Pterostilbene original

The Source of Pterostilbene

Ferns were first discovered as a compound in sandalwood. With the progress of research, more sources have been discovered, including blueberries, grapes, peanuts, and Indian kinos. When dealing with plant stress and fungal infections, the amount of this compound produced is greater. Usually, in plants known to contain astragalus, the concentration of fruits, leaves, and heartwood is extremely high.

Pterostilbene (pronounced terro-still-bene) is a beneficial dietary compound that is found in antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, cranberries and grapes. In both human and animal studies, it has been shown to offer protection against many neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and hematologic disorders. For example, pterostilbene benefits include protecting against memory loss, high cholesterol, high blood pressure levels and even certain types of cancer.

As a methylated stilbene molecule, it has a similar structure to the antioxidant resveratrol. Pterostilbene and resveratrol share many of the same benefits, including fighting oxidative stress, but pterostilbene has been shown to have superior bioavailability. In other words, pterostilbene is believed to be absorbed and utilized by the body more easily than similar phytonutrients, which is one reason why it’s recently caught the attention of health researchers.


  • Fights Oxidative Stress

There’s evidence that pterostilbene has anti-inflammatory properties, reduces oxidative stress and reduces production of reactive oxygen species, which contribute to many chronic diseases. (5) In animal studies, cells treated with pterostilbene have shown increased expression of the antioxidants catalase, total glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and superoxide dismutase.

  • May Help Prevent Cancer

Like resveratrol, pterostilbene has been reported to have cancer-preventive activity. In several clinical trials, it has been shown to be a natural anticancer agent due to its antioxidant and antineoplastic properties (antineoplastic means it acts to prevent, inhibit or halt the development of a neoplasm, or a tumor). Consuming pterostilbene helps lead to improved function of normal cells and inhibition of malignant cells. Some of the ways that it inhibits cancer growth is through the alteration of cancerous cell cycles, induction of apoptosis (cell death), and inhibition of tumorigenesis and metastasis.

A number of studies have found that blueberry extract containing pterostilbene can be especially helpful for preventing and treating breast cancer. Results from experiments using blueberry juice and extract derived from velvetleaf blueberries showed that blueberry exerts an antiproliferative effect against breast cancer cell lines due to the presence of specific chemical components that modify carcinogenic pathways. There’s some evidence that pterostilbene may help inhibit cytochrome P450, an enzymes that activates a variety of compounds known as “procarcinogens” that make carcinogens more dangerous.

  • Supports Cognitive Health

Blueberries are known to be a powerful brain food because they are a great source of protective antioxidants that can help enhance cognition and protect memory.  While more studies are needed to confirm its effects, there’s some evidence that pterostilbene supplements may help reduce symptoms like brain fog, anxiety, poor memory and difficulty learning. Due to its ability to prevent oxidative stress in the brain, pterostilbene and other similar compounds may help protect against neurological problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral injury, neuronal apoptosis, reduced brain volume and brain edema (swelling).

  • May Help Reduce Risk for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders

Some animal studies have found that supplementing with 250–500 milligrams of pterostilbene can have benefits for improving cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar (glucose) levels. Because it can help with the reduction of blood glucose, it may be able to improve insulin sensitivity and offer protection against diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

One study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that when adults with high total cholesterol levels supplemented with 125 milligrams of pterostilbene twice daily they experienced a reduction in blood pressure (diastolic and systolic).  The participants who were not on cholesterol medication also experienced minor weight loss with pterostilbene.

In other animal studies, supplementing with low doses of pterostilbene led to an improvement in cholesterol metabolism, including an increase in HDL “good cholesterol” and a decrease in LDL “bad cholesterol.”  One study out of Annamalai University’s Department of Biochemistry in India involving diabetic rats found that supplementing with 40 milligrams of pterostilbene per kilogram of body weight resulted in a significant reduction in triglyceride levels over a six-week period.

Key points

Animal research and premedical models strongly demonstrate the enormous potential of Astragalus roseus. Recent research has found benefits in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain relief, blood sugar balance, and protecting the heart and brain. Unlike many other promising natural compounds, Zitanqi is well absorbed and evenly distributed in the body. With the advancement of human medical research, Zitanqi may be a potential repair method for some challenging medical conditions.