The secret to weight loss is… grapes?
What is it about red wine that yields such great health benefits? The French seem to know the secret. According to CBS News, it was 18 years ago that 60 Minutes first made the connection between their high wine intake and low incidence of heart disease (in spite of the high-fat French diet). “Most researchers agreed that there was something in the wine that offered protection,” reported CBS. That ingredient is the phytochemical resveratrol. It is found in high concentrations in the skin of the grape, making red wine – along with grape juice and a handful of other foods – an excellent source of it.
Just as resveratrol shields the grape, it acts as an antioxidant in the human body. It can protect us from damaging free radicals and thus reduce our risk of certain types of cancer. Resveratrol also has anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to lower and regulate blood sugar levels. These attributes help the body perform at an optimum level and minimize health risks, both of which are beneficial to weight loss.
The real secret ingredient: SIRT1
It is actually resveratrol’s ability to activate a potent gene called SIRT1 that makes it such a powerful weight loss aid. “A very simple explanation is that when you are in a food scarcity situation, SIRT1 is activated so as to help break down your stored fat to use as fuel,” writes Byron J. Richards of Wellness Resources, “as well as to boost up your energy so that you have enough energy to hunt for new food.” Resveratrol triggers the SIRT1 gene by mimicking a famine situation, and thus helps the body burn fat more effectively.
The SIRT1 gene often becomes inactive in the body due to leptin resistance, a condition that is common in the overweight. A consequence of frequent overeating, this leptin resistance causes the body to turn off the SIRT1 gene. “It is easy to predict that high levels of leptin in your blood (obesity-related leptin resistance) turn SIRT1 off as they would be signaling your liver that famine is over,” says Richards. Resveratrol repairs the damage of leptin resistance by turning the SIRT1 gene back on.
Other foods that contain resveratrol
Red wine and grape juice are rich in resveratrol, but there are other sources of the beneficial phytochemical. Grapes themselves are a great source of resveratrol, as are blueberries, cranberries and some nuts, including peanuts.
There has been debate about whether food containing resveratrol provides enough of the phytochemical to benefit the body. Research indicates that a resveratrol supplement is probably the best way to incorporate resveratrol into your diet. That way you’ll get enough of to reap benefits without needing to brave any of the consequences, such as the high triglycerides, increased risk of breast cancer and migraines that can come with red wine.