We've heard that a little red wine is good for the heart. But now researchers have found that vino is beneficial to human metabolism. Apparently an ingredient in red wine — resveratrol (which sounds like "reverse it all," as in "fountain of youth!") — has some amazing effects on the body.
Resveratrol isn't new — it's been found in grape skin, peanuts and dark chocolate, and has been making headlines for years. But, as the Washington Post reports, in the past, it's been studied in yeast, fruit flies and lab mice. This latest study was on actual humans. Chunky dudes, to be specific:
In the new study, Schrauwen gave 150 milligrams or a placebo to the healthy obese men for 30 days and then switched those on placebo to resveratrol and vice versa for another month. Each time they conducted a series of detailed tests to examine the impact on their metabolism.
Resveratrol appeared to produce all the same effects in the human subjects as it had in animals, such as lowering the metabolic rate, cutting the accumulation of fat in the liver, reducing blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides and inflammation and boosting the efficiency of muscles. There were no apparent side effects.
The ancient Romans were not wrong to worship Dionysus. Some scientists think resveratrol might explain why the French consume a relatively rich diet, but live as long as anyone else. And, as Katie Moisse writes for ABC News, "Obesity ups the risk of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disease caused by insulin resistance. But after 30 days of resveratrol, study subjects showed signs of improved insulin sensitivity."
Of course, as is always the case with these kinds of stories, no one is advocating guzzling gallons of wine instead of going to the gym. (SOB!) But scientists may be able to use the compound in drugs to treat human diseases in the future. Says buzzkiller Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center:
"It would be a mistake to even hint that resveratrol could be a license to forego attempts at eating well and being active. Eating well and being active can help prevent heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. We have no evidence yet — and might never have any — that resveratrol can do these things. Even if resveratrol lives up to its early promise, it should be combined with best efforts at living well, not substituted for them."
Red Wine Ingredient Resveratrol Mimics Diet, Exercise in Obese Men [ABC News]
Substance In Red Wine Shows Promise In First Human Study [Washington Post]
Calorie Restriction-like Effects of 30 Days of Resveratrol Supplementation on Energy Metabolism and Metabolic Profile in Obese Humans [Cell Metabolism]