Everybody's heard (and perhaps too enthusiastically held on to?) the old maxim that a glass of red wine is good for your heart. And now, in new research that makes for a very happy headline, a small, proof-of-concept study suggests that the very same glass could maybe, sorta help overweight people burn fat, too.
Publishing in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers from Oregon State University found that grape intake (in the form of both juice and wine) repressed the growth of existing fat cells and slowed the development of new ones. The researchers pinpointed ellagic acid, a compound found in grapes and other fruits and vegetables, as one of the chemicals that helps cells metabolize fat and sugar.
To conduct the study, researchers observed mice who had developed fatty liver and diabetic symptoms from previously being fed a high fat diet, building on previous experiments in an ongoing study. "They’re a good model for the sedentary person who eats too much snack food and doesn’t get enough exercise,” Dr. Neil Shay, the study's co-author, said in a statement. Over a 10 week period, one group of mice were fed grape extracts in addition to the high-fat diet, and this group had lower blood sugar levels and less fat in their livers compared to the control group.
The grape extracts were equivalent to about one and a half cups of grapes when scaled for human consumption. "The portions are reasonable, which makes our results more applicable to the human diet,” Shay said.
Technically, the science hasn't concluded this happens in humans just yet -- and Shay emphasized that, while the findings are promising, they in no way suggest that ellagic acid, grapes or red wine are any kind of miracle weight loss potion. “We didn’t find, and we didn’t expect to, that these compounds would improve body weight,” he said.
But we think it's safe to say the wine lovers among us are holding out hope.