skip to main content
Can berries shrink your belly?

Can Berries Shrink Your Belly?

Eating berries, grapes and other fruits containing resveratrol could help slow weight gain, converting excess white fat into calorie-burning beige fat, giving us even more reason to learn to love fruit.

Recently published in the International Journal of Obesity1, scientists at Washington State University conducted a study in which mice were fed a high fat diet.

Those receiving resveratrol in amounts equivalent to 12 ounces (about 340g) of fruit per day for humans gained about 40 percent less weight than control mice.

Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a type of antioxidant found in most fruits.

Previous studies have suggested that resveratrol can help prevent obesity but how it did that was unclear. Most of the research, including highly publicized studies on wine, used very large concentrations of resveratrol – much more than a human could consume in a normal diet.

Professor of animal sciences Min Du and visiting scientist Songbo Wang demonstrated that mice fed a diet containing 0.1 percent resveratrol were able to change their excess white fat into the active, energy-burning beige fat.

“Polyphenols in fruit, including resveratrol, increase gene expression that enhances the oxidation of dietary fats so the body won’t be overloaded,” said Du. “They convert white fat into beige fat that burns lipids off as heat – helping to keep the body in balance and prevent obesity and metabolic dysfunction.”

In simpler terms, the study showed that these polyphenols increased the body's ability to metabolise fats that are eaten, which helps to keep weight under control and keep the metabolism stabalised.

The researchers also showed that an enzyme called AMPK, which regulates the body’s energy metabolism, stimulates this transition of white fat into beige fat.

What is Resveratrol and How do I Include it in My Diet?

Resveratrol is a polyphenol and has been lauded as a natural way to slow aging and fight cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes.

Du said resveratrol is only one of the polyphenolic compounds found in fruit that provides beneficial health effects.

These compounds are found in all fruits but good sources are:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Apples

Twelve ounces (about 340g) is about two or three servings per day.

“We are using resveratrol as a representative for all of the polyphenols,” he said.

“We are still using it as a pure compound to be consistent with the study that came out 20 years ago in the medical journal, The Lancet, showing that resveratrol in wine has beneficial effects.

“In reality, it’s the total polyphenolic content that is more important,” he said. “We think you can increase your total intake of polyphenol compounds by directly increasing fruit consumption.”

Wines like merlot or cabernet sauvignon, in contrast, contain only a fraction of resveratrol and other phenolic compounds found in grapes, he said.

“Many of the beneficial polyphenols are insoluble and get filtered out during the wine production process,” he said.

For consumers who want to add fibre and these bioactive compounds to their diet, it’s much better to eat the whole fruit, he said.

What is Beige Fat?

Researchers had always assumed there were only two types of fat, said Du – white fat where lipids are stored as energy and brown fat that burns lipids to produce heat.

Several years ago, scientists discovered beige fat, which is in between white and brown fat. Du said beige fat is generated from white fat in a process called “browning.”

“Resveratrol can enhance this conversion of white fat to beige fat and, when you have high rates of browning, it can partially prevent obesity,” he said.

Du said white fat is protective when it’s healthy. But too much leads to imbalance and disease.“The current theory is that when we eat excessively, the extra lipids are stored in white fat. With obesity, the fat cells enlarge to a point where they’re saturated and can’t uptake more lipids,” he said. “As the fat cells become overloaded and die, they release toxins and cause inflammation leading to health problems like insulin resistance and diabetes.

“Polyphenols like resveratrol are good as they enhance the oxidation of fat so it won’t be overloaded. The excess is burned off as heat,” he said.

Lose Weight the Healthy Way with Weight Loss Resources

Successful weight loss is all about getting the balance right and adopting a healthy lifestyle. With WLR you don’t go on a diet, you learn about healthy eating with the aid of our tools and resources.

Take our FREE trial »

Sponsored

Lose Weight the Healthy Way with Weight Loss Resources

Successful weight loss is all about getting the balance right and adopting a healthy lifestyle. With WLR you don’t go on a diet, you learn about healthy eating with the aid of our tools and resources.

Take our FREE trial »

Imperial | Metric

How Soon Could You Lose a Stone?


Calculate »

New for 2018

Calorie Carb and Fat Bible 2018
  • 25,000+ UK basic and branded foods
  • Completely Updated for 2018
  • New Eating Out section, all major UK restaurants covered
  • Easy to find foods
  • Calories burned information

£5 discount here on wlr

Sponsored

If you enjoyed this article, try our newsletter. It's free.

Receive the latest on what works for weight loss straight to your inbox. We won't share your email address. Privacy policy