A component of red wine turns flabby white fat into fat-blasting brown fat, says a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Researchers at Washington State University fed mice a high fat diet, but some of the mice also received resveratrol that amounted to 0.1 percent of their daily diet or the human equivalent of two or three servings of fruit. The rest of the mice served as controls. Those that received resveratrol changed their excess white fat into energy-burning brown or beige fat, and gained 40 percent less weight than control mice.
Resveratrol, a type of polyphenol, is an antioxidant that's found in fruits, and in high concentrations in red grapes.
The Washington State University study wasn't the first to connect the consumption of red wine with weight loss. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that ellagic acid, a chemical found in dark-colored grapes, inhibits the growth of fat cells and keeps new ones from forming. Even drinking grape juice made from red grapes might also be beneficial.
Ellagic acid could also be helpful in reducing the accumulation of fat in the liver. Over a 10-week period, mice fed a high-fat diet developed fatty liver disease and other metabolic problems. But those who got ellagic acid extracts along with their fatty diets accumulated less fat in their livers and had lower blood sugar than those who didn't get the extract. Researchers discovered that ellagic acid triggers the same fat- and glucose-burning genes as commonly prescribed drugs that lower triglycerides and blood sugar.
Still another study — this one at Purdue University — found that piceatannol, a compound our bodies make from resveratrol, slows the creation of fat cells and keeps them from growing into mature fat cells.
Other studies have likewise shown red wine to be beneficial to your health:
Guards against gum disease. Spanish researchers found that grape seed extract and red wine slow the growth of bacteria that form biofilms in the mouth, which cover teeth, creating acid and forming plaque.
Cuts asthma risk. An eight-year Danish study of almost 40,000 people found that people who drink two or three glasses of wine a week are less likely to develop asthma than those who don't drink at all.
Protects hearing. Researchers at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital divided rats into two groups, and gave one group resveratrol before exposing them to potentially deafening noises. Those given resveratrol were less likely to suffer hearing loss than those not given the supplement. Researchers believe resveratrol helps reduce hearing loss by reducing the inflammation caused when the tiny "hair" cells in the ear called cilia are injured by loud noises.
Helps cancer treatments work. A study at the University of Missouri found that resveratrol makes cancer cells more susceptible to radiation treatments. When treated with radiation, 44 percent of melanoma cells were killed, but when the cancer cells were treated with resveratrol followed by radiation, 65 percent of the tumor cells died.
Results for prostate cancer were even more impressive. A combination of resveratrol and radiation treatment killed 97 percent of prostate tumor cells. "Following the resveratrol-radiation treatment, we realized that we were able to kill many more tumor cells when compared with treating the tumor with radiation alone," said Michael Nicholl, an assistant professor of surgical oncology at the university's school of medicine. "It’s important to note that this killed all types of prostate tumor cells, including aggressive tumor cells."
Improves quality of life. According to researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, people who drink moderately (no more than 14 drinks per week) have better health and enjoy a better lifestyle than those who drink too much or don't drink at all. Researchers studied 5,404 Canadians who were 50 years old and followed them for six years. Those who drank moderately scored higher on all aspects of the Health Utilities Index, which includes factors such as cognition, mobility, dexterity, and emotion. "Overall, this study shows a positive relation between regular moderate alcohol intake and quality of life in middle-aged adults," said the study's authors.
Boosts diabetes meds. Resveratrol boosts the performance of metformin, the popular medicine prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes. About 80 percent of diabetics are overweight or obese, which makes it more difficult for them to control their blood sugar, so researchers at Toronto General Hospital used obese and diabetic rats in their study. They discovered that resveratrol and metformin acted on separate signaling pathways in the gut to lower blood sugar. "Our work shows that these two antidiabetic agents target the intestine directly, a previously underappreciated organ in diabetes therapy, to lower blood glucose levels, even in obese rats or those with diabetes," said researcher Dr. Frank Duca, adding that the findings will lead to more targeted drugs with fewer side effects.
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