Wine's ellagic acid may help burn fat

A compound found in Muscadine grapes may help overweight people burn fat more efficiently, according to new research.

Red wine may help overweight people burn fat better, suggests new research, though the compound responsible is not resveratrol. While new research helps clarify how resveratrol may affect our cells, promoting longevity and even preventing diabetes, results of this study point to ellagic acid, a polyphenol-packed compound found in Muscadine grapes, as another health-promoting ingredient. The study appeared in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and was noted by

Researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences exposed human liver and fat cells grown in the lab to extracts of four natural chemicals found in Muscadine grapes. Muscadine grapes are a dark red variety native to the southeastern United States. One of those chemicals, ellagic acid, “dramatically slowed the growth of existing fat cells and formation of new ones and boosted metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells,” according to a university release.

The acid’s not a weight loss miracle, says Neil Shay, a biochemist and molecular biologist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences who was part of the research team.

“We didn’t find, and we didn’t expect to, that these compounds would improve body weight,” he said. However, by boosting the burning of fat, especially in the liver, they may improve liver function in overweight people. “If we could develop a dietary strategy for reducing the harmful accumulation of fat in the liver, using common foods like grapes,” Shay said, “that would be good news.”

This new research complements an earlier mouse study Shay conducted with team members at the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska. That study used with extracts from Pinot noir grapes harvested from nearby Corvallis vineyards.

Mice fed a high-fat diet and the wine grape extract accumulated less fat in their livers and had lower blood sugar than mice who just feasted on the high fat food without a Pinot cocktail.

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