Is red wine a fat blocker? When I first heard about the concept, my own reaction was of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. If red wine were a fat blocker, I would weigh in at about 106 pounds. However, there is a scientific study that says this is possible due to something in red wine called piceannotol. So, in the interests of science, we’ll check it out. I’m always ready to promote the health benefits of red wine.
The discussion of the health benefits of red wine was brought about some years ago by something called the French Paradox. This is an observation that people in France eat a rich diet, and drink a lot of red wine, but they are much thinner and live longer than you would expect, given their diet. The theory is that resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, is a powerful anti-oxidant that extends life and keeps people slimmer.
This theory has its detractors, as most theories do. But the nutritional supplement industry knows a good thing when it sees it. This is why you can almost expect to find resveratrol supplements in Office Depot. They certainly seem to be everywhere else. You would need the supplement because it is necessary to drink several gallons of red wine every week in order to get significant benefit from the resveratrol in the wine. Sounds like a fun challenge, but impractical over the long term.
Now we hear about piceannotol (pronounced picky – annotol). An assistant professor of food science at Purdue University, Kee-Hong Kim, has found that piceannotol seems to effectively block the formation of fat cells in the lab. Most of us are concerned about fat cells outside the lab, but the process has to start somewhere. This compound has also been shown by prior research to have strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Piceannotol is another polyphenol found in red wine, and it is very similar to resveratrol. Proferssor Kim and Jung Yeon Kwon, a grad student in the lab, reported on their findings in a recent issue of the Journal Of Biological Chemistry.
I had to look up a few definitions so I could understand what was going on here. Kim said in an interview, “In the presence of piceatannol, you can see delay or complete inhibition of adipogenesis.” A third grade definition of adipogeneis is the generation of fat cells. A writer from Purdue, Brian Wallheimer, said in an article, “Piceatannol essentially blocks the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to mature and grow.”
Sounds like more good news about red wine and health, but much more research is necessary. Kim is quick to say that this was a laboratory simulation. The next step is confirmation of these findings using animal obesity models. Personally, I wish Kim and his team luck. The bad news is that these compounds are not found in significant amounts in white wine grapes. Oh, well. I like red wine. I guess the next thing we’ll see is piceannotol supplements next to the resveratrol supplements down at the local Office Depot. Maybe they’ll start selling red wine, too.