Do Chardonnay Grape Seeds Hold a Slimming Secret?

White grape cut in half.
White grape cut in half.
istockphoto

Reduce, reuse, recycle ... slim down?

Every year, a sector of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) focuses on innovative research to increase the efficiency of the US agricultural industry. The pretty fascinating findings (such as lowering the greenhouse gas emissions in milk) are published annually in a pretty boring report titled “Annual Report on Technology Transfer.”

This year, though, one finding grabbed peoples’ attention because it addresses one of everyone’s secret desires: A simple solution to keep weight off.

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Grape seeds, a waste from the wine-making process, create a disposal issue for farmers and winemakers alike. The American wine industry creates tons of waste from processing more than 4 million tons of grapes every year, a mushy combination of skins, seeds, and stems known as pomace.

USDA researchers looking for a use for this waste in Albany, Calif. turned the chardonnay grape seeds into flour. In testing the flour on lab hamsters, the researchers found that despite feeding the hamsters a high-fat diet, the chardonnay grape seed flour seemed to prevent cholesterol increases and weight gain in the animals. The researchers also observed positive changes to the hamsters’ metabolic systems, specifically the cholesterol and fat metabolism--which supported the previous outcomes they measured.

This new use for a byproduct once considered a burdensome waste has created an opportunity for an additional revenue stream for wine producers, but don’t go out looking for chardonnay grape seed flour quite yet. A clinical trial with humans is currently accepting volunteers at the Mayo Clinic to test the Agricultural Research Service’s findings. So you could be a part of this!

On the Mayo Clinic clinical trial research site, you can read the summary of the randomized, double-blind, four-month-long trial to test the effects of chardonnay seed flour (CSF) on healthy adults’ cardiovascular systems when compared with a placebo pill.

Other innovative research in the USDA report included a digital imaging wheat sorting system, lower greenhouse gas emissions in milk processing, producing healthy foods (such as yogurt) from oats, packaging inserts that combat the decay of fresh produce (especially strawberries and blueberries), and a computerized in-orchard, apple sorting harvesting aid. Science is so cool.