Red wine appears to protect the heart and prolong life. Now a new study suggests it may also be a weapon against obesity.
Resveratrol, a compound present in grapes and red wine, appears to inhibit the development of fat cells and have other anti-obesity properties, according to a report from researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany. The findings, to be presented this week at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco, show that in laboratory experiments with so-called “pre-fat cells,'’ resveratrol prevented them from converting into mature fat cells. Resveratrol also hindered fat storage in the cells.
The compound also reduced production of certain cytokines, substances that may be linked to the development of obesity-related disorders like diabetes and clogged coronary arteries. Resveratrol also stimulated the formation of a protein called adiponectin. The substance, known to decrease risk of heart attack, is diminished by obesity.
“Resveratrol has anti-obesity properties by exerting its effects directly on the fat cells,” said the study’s lead author, Pamela Fischer-Posovszky, a pediatric endocrinology research fellow in the university’s diabetes and obesity unit. “Thus, resveratrol might help to prevent development of obesity or might be suited to treating obesity.”
Whether to add red wine to your daily diet must be balanced against other health risks. For people with alcohol dependency problems, the health benefits of red wine are far offset by the risks of drinking to excess. Excessive use of alcohol can lead to addiction, traffic accidents and potentially fatal medical problems.
Increasingly, studies support the idea that drinking a small amount of alcohol each day — no more than one to two servings — is better for you than not drinking, but the findings don’t apply to everyone. Even small amounts can increase risk for certain health worries, like breast and colon cancer. Although those risks are generally offset by the extra heart benefits, some people may decide it is not worth it.