A new study conducted by Washington State University (WSU) scientists suggests that drinking a glass of red wine a day can help people lose weight by turning excess flab known as white fat into brown fat capable of burning calories.

Min Du, a professor at WSU and senior author of the study, led a team of researchers in investigating the effects of an ingredient known as resveratrol, which is present in berries, grapes and red wines, to the health of an individual.

In an experiment on laboratory mice, the researchers gave the animals 12 ounces of fruit a day. This amount is equivalent to the average intake of resveratrol for humans.

DU and his colleagues found that the mice fed with resveratrol-rich fruits gained 40 percent less body weight compared to rodents who were not given the fruits.

The researchers believe the resveratrol in the animals' body helped convert excess adipose tissues known as white fat into active brown ones that burned away calories and reduced the weight of the mice.

They also theorize that other components, such as polyphenol chemicals, in fruits may also have similar benefits to resveratrol.

"Polyphenols in fruit, including resveratrol, increase gene expression that enhances the oxidation of dietary fats so the body won't be overloaded," Du said.

"They convert white fat into beige fat which burns lipids (fats) off as heat, helping to keep the body in balance and prevent obesity and metabolic dysfunction. We are using resveratrol as a representative for all the polyphenols."

Du added that fruits and berries such as grapes, apples, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are highly rich with resveratrol.

Red wine is also a well-known source for the fat-burning ingredient but only to a lesser content compared to grapes.

Du said that many of the healthy components of red wine are filtered out and become insoluble during the process of producing the wine.

Resveratrol has been recognized as a natural way to combat different illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and cancer. It has also been show to retard the effects of aging, diabetes and obesity. Many of the claims associated with the ingredient, however, are still debated on.

The Washington State University study is featured in the International Journal of Obesity.

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski | Flickr 

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