Wine lovers, rejoice. Researchers have found that a compound found in red wine could help counteract the negative impact of a high fat diet.
Resveratrol is a naturally occuring compound found in blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, grape skins and consequently in red wine.
Researchers from Georgetown University in the US studied the effects of resveratrol in the diet of rhesus monkeys. They hypothesised that a resveratrol supplement would counteract the negative impact of a high fat/sugar diet on the hind leg muscles.
In previous animal studies, resveratrol was already shown to increase the life span of mice and slow the onset of diabetes. In one study, it mirrored the positive effects of aerobic exercise in mice, which were fed a high fat/sugar diet, researchers said.
For the new study, a control group of rhesus monkeys was fed a healthy diet and another group was fed a high fat/sugar diet, half of which also received a resveratrol supplement and the other half that did not.
Researchers wanted to know how different parts of the body responded to the benefits of resveratrol — specifically the muscles in the back of the leg.
Three types of muscles were examined — a "slow" muscle, a "fast" muscle and a "mixed" muscle. The study showed that each muscle responded differently to the diet and to the addition of resveratrol.
In the soleus muscle, myosin, a protein that helps muscles contract and determines its slow or fast properties, shifted from more slow to more fast with a high fat/sugar diet. The addition of resveratrol to the diet counteracted this shift, researchers said.
The plantaris muscle, a 5-10 centimetre long muscle along the back of the calf, did not have a negative response to the high fat/sugar diet, but it did have a positive response to the addition of resveratrol, they said.
According to researchers, it would be reasonable to expect other slow muscles to respond similarly to the soleus muscle when exposed to a high fat/sugar diet and resveratrol.
"The maintenance or addition of slow characteristics in soleus and plantaris muscles, respectively, implies that these muscles are far more fatigue resistant than those without resveratrol," said JP Hyatt from Georgetown University.
"Skeletal muscles that are phenotypically slower can sustain longer periods of activity and could contribute to improved physical activity, mobility, or stability, especially in elderly individuals," said Hyatt, indicating that the study could be applied to humans.
The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology. — PTI