Red Wine Stunt Fat Cells?
German scientists recently studied the affect of “resveratrol,”— a phytonutrient found in the skins of grapes used to make red wine—on the behavior of human fat cells.2 Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found to have health benefits in many studies, including a protective effect against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is present in high amounts in red wine because of the length of time it takes to ferment the grapes while the skins are still on them. Researchers found that resveratrol blocked immature fat cells from developing, which affected their ability to function in their usual way. They also found that it blocked molecules from converting into fat, and affected the ability of fat cells to communicate with each other. All in all, resveratrol seemed to interfere with the body’s usual way of accumulating fat, which may mean that it helps ward off obesity—a major risk factor for heart disease.
Open the Gates
In a second study, researchers from Israel looked at how red wine affects the health of blood vessels.3 Fourteen healthy adults with a mean age of 29 years consumed two servings of red wine a day for three weeks. By examining blood samples, researchers found that the red wine “significantly enhanced vascular endothelial function.” In other words, it helped support the health of the cells lining the blood vessels, which then improves blood flow to and from the heart. This study also suggested that red wine helps make nitric oxide more available to the cells. Nitric oxide signals the cells lining the blood vessels to relax, which again, aids in proper blood flow, reducing the risk of clots.
Resveratrol Your Diet
As with all scientific studies, these need to be duplicated by other research before we can be sure of their results. However, they do provide new insights into how red wine may be working in the body to contribute to our health. Resveratrol isn’t found only in red wine—it’s also present in grape juice, blueberries, and dark chocolate. Including these items along with your evening glass of spirits could go a long way toward maintaining your good health. Just remember that so far, red wine is reputed to have more resveratrol than white wine, since it is fermented with the grape skins intact, whereas white wine is fermented without the skins. What if you’re not a wine drinker? Indulge in a handful of grapes, cranberries, or mulberries, as these are likely to have more benefit than resveratrol supplements. If you do want to try supplements, ask your doctor to recommend some high-quality brands.