A Red-Wine Chemical Cuts the Fat

A new study finds that a chemical in red wine may prevent some of the fatty foods we eat from being converted into fatty tissue. The research, published in the March issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, found that piceatannol, a polyphenol found in grape skins and red wine, effectively blocks the formation of fat cells in the lab.

In previous research, the polyphenol resveratrol has been linked to lower levels of fat, but its clinical implications are limited. Resveratrol is quickly metabolized by humans and may wash through the body with little noticeable benefit to fat intake. Piceatannol is similar to resveratrol, but with a key difference. Its structure contains an additional hydrogen and oxygen molecule that makes it harder for the body to digest—it sticks around in the body a little longer.

“A number of previous studies indicated that piceatannol has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activities,” said co-author Dr. Kee-Hong Kim, a nutritionist at the department of Food Science at Purdue University. But its interactions with fat tissue remain unexplored.

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