A lot of foods and beverages are sold as diet aids, but a new study suggests a possible way to burn fat faster and keep the pounds away is drinking red grape juice or wine. According to findings from a new study, extracts from dark-colored grapes, whether consumed as grapes or drunk in juice or wine, could enable people to better address obesity and – even more importantly – preclude related disorders, like fatty liver.
The researchers were hoping to develop a dietary strategy using common foods to reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can be harmful. This study used Muscadine grapes, a dark-red kind that is native to the southeastern U.S., and pinot noir grapes from vineyards near Corvallis, Oregon, for the research.
In the study, the team exposed human liver and fat cells that were grown in the lab to four natural chemicals extracts found in the grapes. One chemical, ellagic acid, had a dramatic impact on the cells. The extract decelerated the growth of existing fat cells and slowed formation of new ones. It also boosted the metabolism of the fatty acids found in the liver cells.
The scientists caution that grape plant chemicals will probably not turn into a weight-loss miracle. “We didn’t find, and we didn’t expect to, that these compounds would improve body weight,” according to Neil Shay, who coauthored the study and works as a biochemist and molecular biologist in Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. However, boosting the fat burning, especially in the liver, may improve liver function in those who are severely overweight.
During the 10-week study, some mice were fed a normal “mouse chow” diet, which contained 10 percent fat. The other mice were fed a diet with a 60-percent fat content, which represented the type of unhealthy diet that puts excess pounds on humans. According to Shay, the mice like a high-fat diet and will overeat on it, much like a person who snacks too much.
Some of the mice on the high-fat diet were given the equivalent of one and a half cups of grapes a day in human portions (which was scaled down to the appropriate amount for mice). The mice fed the high-fat diet without the grape extracts developed fatty liver and diabetic symptoms typical of humans. Conversely, the mice that consumed the high-fat chow, but were given extracts, had less fat in their livers and lower blood sugar than the others that ate similar food. Additionally, the high fat and extract fed mice had blood sugar levels almost as low that the normally fed mice.
The researchers hypothesized that the extract chemicals had a similar effect to commonly prescribed drugs in lowering the mice blood sugar and triglyceride levels. They theorized that the ellagic acid and other chemicals in the grape extracts bound to the cells’ nuclear hormone receptors, which resulted in their switching on genes that activate the metabolism of dietary fat and glucose.
Noting that they wanted to determine what health benefits some foods offer, the researchers were happy to suggest that wine and grapes burn fat away. As Shay noted. “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?”
By Dyanne Weiss