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Could Drinking Wine Help You Burn Fat?

Feb 06, 2015 05:36 PM EST

Here's yet another reason to drink wine: it could help you burn fat better. At least, if you drink it - or red grape juice - in moderation, according to a new study.

The findings suggest that consuming dark-colored grapes, whether eating them or drinking juice or wine, might help overweight people better manage their weight and related metabolic disorders, such as fatty liver.

"We are trying to validate the specific contributions of certain foods for health benefits," lead study author Neil Shay said in a statement. "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?"

Researchers hope not that their findings replace needed medications, but that they help guide people into making smarter choices with their diet that have certain health benefits.

During the study, Shay and his team exposed human liver and fat cells grown in the lab to extracts of four natural chemicals found in Muscadine grapes, a dark-red variety native to the southeastern United States. One of the chemicals, ellagic acid, significantly slowed the growth of existing fat cells and the formation of new ones. It also boosted the metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells.

Shay is quick to note that these chemicals are not a quick fix to weight loss. However, by boosting the burning of fat, especially in the liver, they may improve liver function in people who are overweight.

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

This goes along with a previous study in which Shay and his colleagues fed a group of mice were fed high-fat diets, but some of them were also given the plant extracts. They were scaled down to a mouse's nutritional needs, and were about the equivalent of one and a half cups of grapes a day for a person.

They found that the chubby mice that got the extracts stored less fat in their livers, as well as had lower blood sugar, compared to those that consumed the high-fat diet alone.

This isn't to say that if you're overweight you should start chowing down on red grapes and drink as much wine as you can, because any good things is always better in moderation.

The results were published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

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