Dear, dear friend booze—wrap us in your tender, alcoholic bosom and never let us go.
Everyone knows that adage about a glass of red wine every week being good for your heart. Considering how we drink, our cardiovascular systems will outlast that Wall-E bot that NASA sent to Mars.
And yes, we know that resveratrol might be fantastic for preserving all of our memories of drunkenly trying to sing Drake songs to our cats. Red wine also has a way of turning us into human Cathy comics.
Now, there's even better news for winos: Red wine may help you to stop packing on fat. If the Real Housewives of the world said "huzzah," they'd be saying it right about now.
Truth be told, it really has nothing to do with wine itself. You could just as easily eat some muscadine grapes or drink their juice to see a similar effect, according to research recently published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Wine's luscious, comforting alcohol is just a side benefit.
The study researchers were particularly interested in ellagic acid, a compound found in muscadine grapes that slowed the growth of existing fat cells and the creation of new ones. It also helped to boost the metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells, which may help to improve liver function in people who are overweight.
But one of the researchers in the study, biochemist and molecular biologist Dr. Neil Shay of Oregon State University, cautioned that ellagic acid isn't a weight-loss cure. "We didn't find, and we didn't expect to, that these compounds would improve body weight," he said in a press release.
Researchers fed one group of mice a diet of typical "mouse chow," containing 10 percent fat. Another group was fed a diet of 60 percent fat. Shay called the high-fat diet mice "a good model for the sedentary person who eats too much snack food and doesn't get enough exercise."
The mouse groups were divvied up yet again, with some receiving an extract from muscadine grapes equivalent to a daily cup and a half of grapes for a human. After ten weeks, the high-fat diet mice who weren't given the extract developed fatty liver disease and diabetic symptoms. But the ones who did get the extract accumulated less fat in their livers, and had lower blood sugar than their unluckier counterparts.
The takeaway is that ellagic acid may act on hormone receptors that trigger the metabolism of dietary fat and glucose in the same way as some medications. A modified diet, therefore, could help in steering the body's biochemistry in the right direction.
"We are trying to validate the specific contributions of certain foods for health benefits," Shay said. "If you're out food shopping, and if you know a certain kind of fruit is good for a health condition you have, wouldn't you want to buy that fruit?"
Also wine, Dr. Shay. Also wine.