Red Wine May Help Combat Obesity

Posted Mon, 05/25/2009 - 3:05am by Fred Lee

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In addition to lending ambiance and enhancing the enjoyment of your meal, red wine has long been thought of as being good for our hearts and prolonging life. Now, however, it is also being looked upon as a potential weapon in the fight against obesity.

Recent research has found that one of the active ingredients that gives red wine it’s health enhancing ability, resveratrol, has also been shown to have a variety of obesity fighting capabilities. Not only did resveratrol inhibit fat precursor cells (or “pre-fat cells”) from fully developing to maturity, but it appeared to impede fat storage, as well.

Researchers also observed a decrease in certain cytokines (cell signaling compounds) that have been implicated in the development of obesity related disorders such as diabetes and clogged arteries. And finally, resveratrol seemed to stimulate the formation of the protein, adinopectin, which is known to decrease the risk of heart attack and is in fact compromised by obesity.

The recent findings seem to support the popular notion of the French Paradox, whereby the French have a low incidence of heart disease despite their rich diets heavy with fat. There is some dispute, however, as to whether the resveratrol levels are high enough to explain this phenomenon.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound that is produced by plants when they under stress, usually in response to an assault from pathogens such as fungus or bacteria. It is also found in the skin of grapes and thus, red wine.

Numerous experiments have shown that resveratrol can extend the life of certain organisms, including fruit flies and yeast, and it has been shown to potentially temper the negative effects of high fat diets in mice. It is also being looked at for the prevention of certain cancers, as a potential athletic performance enhancer, and a possible treatment for neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Before you go out and start stocking up on red wine, however, you might want to consider that the definitive effects of resveratrol on mammals is still under scientific investigation, even in lieu of the supporting anecdotal evidence. Furthermore, excessive consumption of alcohol has its own share of negative effects. In certain instances it can be carcinogenic, and as we all know, has its share of public health costs in terms of alcoholism as well as impaired behavior and decision making.

Which begs the question, what about drinking grape juice? Some experts have determined that grape juice does in fact contain comparable levels resveratrol, especially when they are made with dark red and purple grapes. Peanuts also have it, though in smaller amounts, or about half that of red wine.

In the end, the implications are compelling, and support the healthful implications of red wine or grape juice. But as with everything, a little common sense is needed, so talk to your physician or seek out the advice of a nutritional expert of dietician.

 

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