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Can Grape Seeds Protect You From Obesity?

A study published in the March 2009 issue of the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that the polyphenols in Chardonnay grape seeds may protect against oxidative stress linked to obesity.

Polyphenols are antioxidant rich compounds found naturally in plants. The strong antioxidant properties of these compounds allow them to decrease damaging oxidation processes in the body by neutralizing destructive free radicals.

For the study, researchers from the University of Montpellier in France separated hamsters into three diet groups.

The first group received a standard diet, the second group was fed a high-fat diet, and the third group received a high-fat diet plus a grape seed extract containing polyphenols.

After 12 weeks, the hamsters on the high-fat diet had increased abdominal fat compared to the hamsters on the standard diet.

However, the hamsters in the grape seed extract group did not have any increase in abdominal fat.

The researchers also found higher increases in blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin and insulin resistance among the hamsters in the high-fat diet group compared to the hamsters in the grape seed supplement group.

Levels of oxidative stress were also 74 percent lower for the hamsters in the high fat plus supplement group compared to the high fat diet only group.

Finally, levels of a protein called Adiponectin were 61 percent lower among the animals receiving the supplements. Adiponectin is a protein hormone associated with a number of metabolic processes, and levels are inversely related to body fat levels.

Lead researcher Dr. Jean-Max Rouanet says these findings suggest that polyphenols may have an anti-obesity effect.

Further human studies are necessary in order to confirm these results.

Polyphenols have already been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers and neurodegenerative diseases as well as help balance blood sugar levels.
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