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Wine grape flour may cut cholesterol levels.

Commercial bakers may have a new tool in their ingredient kit: flours made from a surprising source--wine grape seeds. Currently, bakers blend these flours with others to make breads, cookies or crackers. Now, new research may not only spark more interest in the flours, but may also lead to their use as a health-promoting ingredient in a broader range of foods.

USDA-ARS scientists are looking at the potential health benefits of specialty flours made from wine grape seeds. Working with WholeVine Products, Santa Rosa, CA, which makes wine grape flours, the researchers found that hamsters fed diets similar in caloric content to the American diet mixed with Chardonnay white wine grape seeds had less blood cholesterol, hepatic steatosis (also known as fatty liver) and weight gain compared to hamsters fed diets without grape seeds or Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah red grape seed flour. Hamsters were used in these preliminary laboratory experiments because they absorb cholesterol from food, and synthesize it in the liver, in much the same way as humans.

Although earlier research by other scientists has illustrated cholesterol-lowering and weight-control effects from highly purified extracts of winemaking byproducts, we're told that this research is the first to show that flour milled from whole grape seeds, with a little of their natural oil, is able to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

The scientists also examined changes in the activity of some of the genes associated with obesity. They found that leptin, which is usually high in people who are obese, decreased. Adiponectin, which is believed to help prevent diabetes and atherosclerosis, increased.

Other research involves looking at the effects of grape seed flour and bacteria living in the animal's gut. The investigators are adding Chardonnay grape seed flour to rations fed to laboratory mice to determine if this changes the types and amounts of bacteria dwelling in their gut. This research is important because some gut bacteria may be beneficial in controlling obesity or reducing risk of type 2 diabetes.

The hamster study paved the way for follow-up research being conducted at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, which will determine whether the beneficial effects seen in hamsters also occur in humans.

Further information. Wallace Yokoyama, USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center, Room 1100, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA, 94710; phone: 510-559-5695; email:

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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Nov 1, 2015
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