Published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the study analysed human liver and fat cells which had been grown in a lab to extracts from four chemicals that were found in darker grapes.
Particularly helpful in slowing down the growth of fat cells was a chemical called ellagic acid, found in the grapes, which was also successful in boosting the metabolism.
But Oregon State University’s biochemist and molecular biologist Neil Shay who co-authored the study is hesitant to call the grapes a weight loss ‘miracle cure’.
“We didn’t find, and we didn’t expect to [find], that these compounds would improve body weight,” he said.
But when it came to burning fat, particularly in the liver, the chemical was found to be helpful.
The study was carried out with support from the universities of Florida and Nebraska, where mice were given normal mouse food that contained about 10 per cent fat, while others were given a diet of 60 per cent fat. After 10 weeks, the mice on the fattier diet had developed diabetic and fatty liver symptoms, “the same metabolic consequences we see in many overweight, sedentary people,” said Shay.
But the chubby mice who had the grape extracts store up less fat in their livers and also had lower blood sugar than those who had consumed the fatty diet alone.
Upon closer analysis of the tissues of the mice who had eaten the supplements, scientists found higher levels of two proteins which metabolise fat and sugar in cells.
According to Shay, the idea is to be able to supplement medicines with the right food to give people a healthier life.