By now, most of us have heard about the cardiovascular benefits of drinking red wine. But white wines—like Chardonnay—have always taken a backseat to their healthier counterparts. Until now, that is.

Actually, drinking a glass of Chardonnay isn’t going to do much for your overall health. But eating the seeds from the Chardonnay grape just might.

Let me explain…

Chardonnay grape seeds contain powerful polyphenols. These substances basically patrol your body, zapping any free radicals they find. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can cause disease, especially cancer, in the body. (In January 15, 2009’s Guide to Good Health, we discussed how grape seed extract can zap 76 percent of leukemia cells literally overnight. To read that article, simply visit this link: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/article_list.php?docs_id=91.)

Naturally boost your metabolism

Turns out the polyphenols in Chardonnay grape seeds may also help the body regulate its metabolism, even prevent obesity.

In recent lab testing, scientists at the University of Montpellier wanted to see if grape seed extract could prevent weight gain in hamsters. Test subjects were divided into three groups:

1. Subjects fed a normal diet
2. Subjects fed a high-fat diet
3. Subjects fed a high-fat diet but supplemented with the grape seed extract

Not surprisingly, after 12 weeks the test subjects fed a normal diet maintained a healthy weight. Subjects on the high-fat diet gained abdominal fat. These hamsters also experienced spikes in blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin and insulin resistance.

And what about the grape seed group? Could they keep off the fat?

The grape seed group did keep off the fat! Despite receiving a high-fat diet, they did not increase their abdominal fat.

So, how did they eat more fat without gaining, you ask?

It appears that Chardonnay grape seeds somehow “turned off” the body’s “switch” to retain fat. In fact, the high-fat/grape seed hamsters had 61 percent more adiponectin in their blood than their high-fat alone counterparts. Adiponectin is inversely related to body fat. The more adiponectin your body produces, the less fat you collect.

Plus, the news just kept getting better for the grape seed group. They experienced improvements in several key markers of good health.

Insulinemia (abnormally high insulin in the blood) decreased by 16.5 percent in the high-fat/grape seed group. Leptinemia (a marker for diabetes) decreased by 45 percent. The researchers also noted lowered glycemia and insulin resistance values among the high-fat/grape seed group.

Lastly, the high-fat/grape seed group experienced significant drops in two measures of oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress contributes directly to the formation of free radicals in the body.)

But as an antioxidant, the grape seed extract seems to counteract oxidative stress in the test subjects. Production of NAD(P)H dropped by 30 percent and superoxide anion dropped by a whopping 74 percent.

This is good news, as unchecked oxidative stress has been linked to everything from premature aging to cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.

Stay the course

Now—I’m not saying that this study gives you carte blanche to eat a high fat-diet. From my point of view, it’s just another tool to put into your toolbox if you’re concerned about maintaining a healthy weight.

And remember—so far it’s only been shown to work on hamsters. Scientists have a long way to go before proving this stuff works on you and me. But if you want to give it a try (under the care of a naturopath, of course), I would recommend taking 200 mg per day. It’s pretty easy (and cheap) to find.

If you want to shrink your pant size, give some grape seed extract a try. Not only is it a great antioxidant, it just may help you lose a pound or two.