Websites love headlines like "Drink Red Wine for Health!" It grabs your attention and gives you permission to do what you might already be doing: knocking back a couple of glasses a night (at the cost of 1700 extra calories per week, unfortunately). What the headlines should be saying is, "Consume Ellagic Acid for Health!"
Yeah, that might not get as many clicks, but it's more accurate.
A couple of recent studies zoomed in on wine's healthiest benefits and found that ellagic acid is wine's most compelling component. This stuff seems to slow the growth of existing fat cells and the formation of new ones. And there's a way to reap all the benefits without ingesting a single counteracting calorie.
One study out of Oregon State University exposed lab-grown human fat and liver cells to the chemicals found in dark red grapes. Ellagic acid boosted metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells, slowed the growth of fat cells and the formation of new fat cells.
A second study out the Universities of Florida and Nebraska took a group of fat mice and fed half of them with extracts from Pinot noir grapes along with a high-fat diet. These were lazy little bastards too, so they didn't exercise much.
The group that didn't get the grape extracts developed fatty liver and diabetic symptoms. But the supplemented group of tubby mice accumulated less fat in their livers and had lower blood sugar. In fact, due to the ellagic acid, their blood sugar was comparable to that of lean mice that ate healthy mouse chow from Rodent Whole Foods.
How? Higher activity levels of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma, proteins that metabolize fat and sugar within the cell.
You could add some grape juice to your diet, but a lot of folks avoid sugary fruit juices, and for good reason. Or you could eat about a cup and a half of Muscadine grapes per day. And sure, you can enjoy your merlot, but adding alcohol to a diet phase is a bit counterproductive since alcohol itself puts a temporary halt to the body's fat burning mechanisms.
Another option is pomegranate, which is a good source of ellagic acid, but you'd have to eat a lot of it. If you want to avoid stained fingers and the accompanying sugars and calories, you can supplement freeze-dried pomegranate. A great source is Biotest® Superfood (40% ellagic acid).
As a bonus, you'll get all the healthy benefits of 17 other fruits, veggies, and green tea. Just toss it into a protein shake.
- Okla M et al. Ellagic acid modulates lipid accumulation in primary human adipocytes and human hepatoma Huh7 cells via discrete mechanisms. J Nutr Biochem
. 2015 Jan;26(1):82-90. PubMed.