Looking to add another fat-busting food to your shopping list? Look no further than a good -- and good for you -- bottle of red wine, scientists suggest.
Red wine or juice from red grapes in moderation can help overweight people improve their health buy helping to burn off fat more efficiently, researchers say.
Dark-colored grapes, either eaten or consumed in wine or juice, can help in managing obesity and some linked metabolic disorders including a fatty liver, says Oregon State University biochemist Neil Shay, a member of a researcher team.
The researchers exposed human fat and liver cells cultured in a lab to four chemicals extracted from Muscadine grapes, a deep-red grape variety found in the southeastern U.S.
One of those chemicals, ellagic acid, showed a dramatic ability to slow the growth of existing fat cells and the formation of new fat cells, and it increased metabolism of fatty acids inside liver cells, the team wrote in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Shay cautions against considering such plant chemicals as a weight-loss "magic bullet," however.
"We didn't find, and we didn't expect to, that these compounds would improve body weight," he says, but he suggests that by improving the burning of fat, particularly in the liver, such compounds could bring improved 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 says, "that would be good news."
The new study is similar to one in 2013 in which Shay added extracts from Pinot noir grapes harvested in Oregon vineyards to the diet of lab mice.
While some of the mice were given a normal diet containing 10 percent fat, another group was put on a diet with 60 percent fat.
"Our mice like that high-fat diet," said Shay, "and they overconsume it. So they're a good model for the sedentary person who eats too much snack food and doesn't get enough exercise."
The mice on the high-fat diet developed fatty livers and symptoms of diabetes, "the same metabolic consequences we see in many overweight, sedentary people," Shay explains.
However, some of the mice on the high-fat diet had their diet supplemented with the grape extracts, and they showed lower blood sugar, Shay says, almost as low as the mice that fed on the normal 10 percent fat diet.
"We are trying to validate the specific contributions of certain foods for health benefits," he says. "If you're out food shopping and if you know a certain kind of fruit is good for a health conditions you have, wouldn't you want to buy that fruit?"