FoodFacts.com thinks we all get excited when we hear that a food or beverage we feel somewhat guilty about is shown to have actual health benefits. Really, what’ s better than finding out that we really should be eating chocolate?
So what if you heard that red wine can burn fat? (Really, it’s red grapes and all products from them, including wine — but we’ll go with the wine — in moderation, of course.)
The latest research discovering the benefits of red wine was recently published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The study, conducted by scientists working together at the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska, has revealed beneficial effects from many products of dark red grapes.
The new findings suggest that consuming dark colored grapes – whether in wine, grape juice, or straight off the vine – could help people manage metabolic disorders related to obesity, such as the accumulation of fat in the liver and the regulation of blood sugar. Of course, the benefits of eating or drinking grape products only appear when taken in moderation.
“We did not expect, and we did not find, these compounds to improve body weight,” said Neil Shay bluntly, a biochemist and molecular biologist at Oregon State University who formed part of the research team. However, “if we could develop a dietary strategy for reducing the harmful accumulation of fat in the liver, using common foods like grapes, then it would be good news,” he added.
In the study, lab-grown human liver and fat cells were exposed to four natural chemicals found in Muscadine grapes. Muscadine grapes are native to the southeastern United States, and are one of the deep red varieties. One of the chemicals in the experiment, ellagic acid, was observed to dramatically slow the growth of existing fat cells, and deter the growth of new fat cells. It also promoted the metabolism of fatty acids found in liver cells.
Another trial conducted by the researchers involved feeding diets supplemented by Pinot noir grape extracts to obese mice. A control group of mice with a normal diet of 10 percent fat was compared to other groups fed an unhealthy diet of 60 percent fat. Over a period of 10 weeks, the mice with the high-fat diet developed fatty liver and signs of diabetes, symptoms also commonly observed in overweight or sedentary humans.
However, some of the overweight mice were also fed the Pinot noir grape extracts. These groups were observed to have a reduced accumulation of fat in their livers, as well as lower blood sugar than other mice fed on the same high-fat diet. In fact, the grape extracts helped some mice achieve the same blood sugar levels as mice fed on the normal diet.
Red wine has been linked to many other health benefits, including fighting cancer and reducing memory loss, especially in the elderly. However, Shay does not want people to think that his intention is to replace medications. “We are trying to validate the specific contributions of certain foods for health benefits,” he said. “If you’re out food shopping, and if you know a certain kind of fruit is good for a health condition you have, wouldn’t you want to buy that fruit?”
We’ve known for awhile that red wine in moderation can offer a variety of health benefits. This new information gives us another great reason to enjoy a glass with a great, healthy meal. We’ll enjoy it even more knowing we may be doing more for our bodies than we originally thought!