A Glass of Red Wine to Help Burn Fat

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Moderate consumption of red grape juice or wine has been shown to help burn fat better, improving the health of overweight people.

Moderate consumption of red grape juice or wine has been shown to help burn fat better, improving the health of overweight people.

According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, ingesting dark-colored grapes, whether eating or drinking juice or wine, could potentially help better manage obesity and similar metabolic disorders like fatty liver.

Neil Shay, a biochemist and molecular biologist at OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences, and his team exposed human liver and fat cells grown in the lab to extracts of 4 natural chemicals found in Muscadine grapes, a dark-red variety native to the southeastern United States. One such chemical, ellagic acid, proved especially potent, as it significantly halted the growth of existing fat cells as well as the formation of new ones, boosting the metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells.

In a 10-week trial with mice models, the researchers supplemented the overweight mice’s diets with Pinot noir grape extracts, equivalent to a human serving of one and a half cups of grapes per day, harvested from Corvallis-area vineyards.

Some of the mice were fed a normal diet consisting of 10% fat, and the remaining mice were fed a diet containing 60% fat. Shay explained, "Our mice like that high-fat diet and they over-consume it. So they're a good model for the sedentary person who eats too much snack food and doesn't get enough exercise." Shay and his team discovered that the high-fat-fed mice developed fatty liver and diabetic symptoms, similar to the metabolic consequences often found in overweight, sedentary people.

Interestingly enough, the chubby mice who received the Pinot Noir grape extracts collected less fat in their livers and had lower blood sugar, than those that consumed only the high-fat diet. The researchers tipped their hat off to ellagic acid for lowering the high-fat mice group's blood sugar to rival that of the, normally fed mice.

Shay commented, "If we could develop a dietary strategy for reducing the harmful accumulation of fat in the liver, using common foods like grapes that would be good news."

Shay and his team hope is not to replace needed medications but to guide people in choosing common, widely available foods that have particular health benefits, including boosting metabolic function.

He concluded, "We are trying to validate the specific contributions of certain foods for health benefits. 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?"

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