Lab animals fed a high-fat diet but supplemented with resveratrol had less body fat than non-supplemented animals, despite both groups having similar body weights, report researchers from the University of País Vasco in Valencia report.
“It is important to point out that the effective dose in our experimental design, as well as those used by other authors, is far greater than the amount usually ingested by humans (100-930 micrograms per day), meaning that the positive effects of this molecule on body fat would only be achieved by the intake of resveratrol pills or functional foods enriched with this molecule,” write the researchers in Nutrition & Metabolism.
Resveratrol’s rosy potential
Resveratrol is often touted as the bioactive compound in grapes and red wine, and has particularly been associated with the so-called 'French Paradox'. The phrase, coined in 1992 by Dr Serge Renaud from Bordeaux University, describes the low incidence of heart disease and obesity among the French, despite their relatively high-fat diet and levels of wine consumption.
Interest in the compound exploded in 2003 when research from David Sinclair and his team from Harvard reported that resveratrol was able to increase the lifespan of yeast cells. The research, published in Nature, was greeted with international media fanfare and ignited flames of hope for an anti-ageing pill.
According to Sinclair’s findings, resveratrol could activate a gene called sirtuin1 (Sirt1 – the yeast equivalent was Sir2), which is also activated during calorie restriction in various species, including monkeys.
Since then studies in nematode worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice have linked resveratrol to longer lives. Other studies with only resveratrol have reported anti-cancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects, cardiovascular benefits, anti-diabetes potential, energy endurance enhancement, and protection against Alzheimer’s.
Interest in the molecule is increasing. At the recent SupplySide East show in New Jersey Datamonitor’s Tom Verhile told attendees: “New food and beverage product launches containing resveratrol tripled in 2009-2010. This is an ingredient to watch…”
According to the new findings, resveratrol may also offer fat-fighting potential, if the results are repeated in further studies, particularly human trials.
The Valencia-based scientists divided 16 rats into two equal groups. Both groups were fed an obesity-inducing diet, but one group had their diet supplemented with resveratrol (30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day).
After six weeks of study, the researchers found that both groups had similar body weight, but that the resveratrol fed animals has significantly lower fat tissue levels.
A reduction in the activity of enzymes linked to fat production was also observed in the resveratrol-fed animals, they noted, as well as in the activity of enzymes responsible for the uptake of fatty acids from triglycerides in the blood.
Despite offering plausible mechanisms for the potential anti-obesity activity of resveratrol, the researchers note that other mechanisms may still be responsible.
“These should be further investigated in order to determine its whole body-fat mechanism of action,” they concluded.
Source: Nutrition & Metabolism
“Changes in white adipose tissue metabolism induced by resveratrol in rats”
Authors: G. Alberdi, V.M. Rodriguez, J. Miranda, M.T. Macarulla, N. Arias, C. Andres-Lacueva, M.P. Portillo