Whenever a scientific study finds that drinking alcohol can offer health benefits, people rejoice. Who doesn’t want to believe that the occasional, or more than occasional, cocktail, glass of wine, or bottle of beer will not only improve your mood, but also improve your health?
When these studies find that red wine may boost memory or that beer may fend off neurodegenerative diseases, it’s only human nature to want to raise a glass or two and toast those clever scientists who just gave us a license to get a little tipsy. If you read past the headlines, though, you’ll often find that one concept is always stressed: moderation. Moderation rarely leads to tipsy.
The latest study to find health benefits in alcohol is certain to get people excited at first glance— red wine may help weight loss. Just before Valentine’s Day, when corks will be popping all weekend, we’re told that the wine we drink may cancel out the box of chocolates we eat. It’s a Valentine’s miracle. Or is it?
Of course, as much as we’d love that to be true, it's not. What is true is that a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that consuming small amounts of red wine might help burn fat. Take note of two words in that last sentence: small and might.
It’s a small amount of regular red wine that could help with the “liver's fat-burning capability and therefore make it easier to lose weight.” It’s not the alcohol that’s the contributing factor, either. It’s the ellagic acid, an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables, including the muscadine grapes in the wine used for the study.
Tests found that human liver and fat cells grown in a lab were positively affected by the ellagic acid. It helped to slow the growth of existing fat cells and prevented the growth of new ones. No studies were done on humans. Not a single person lost weight while drinking red wine during this study because people weren’t a part of it.
I’ll still be popping a cork this Valentine’s Day, but I won’t be expecting it to cancel out any treats I’ll be eating. Both the wine and the food should be in moderation.
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