BEIJING, Nov. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- A natural substance found in red wine can extend life and counter the negative effects of an unhealthy high-fat diet, researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the U.S. National Institute of Aging said.
Researchers have discovered that a compound in red wine called resveratrol caused lab mice to live longer. Not only that, the mice also experienced a reversal in genes associated with heart disease, diabetes and other weight-related maladies.
They carried the study out on mice fed on a diet so high in saturated fats that it was equivalent to eating a cream cake with every meal. Mice on the fatty diet became obese, suffered health disorders such as liver and heart disease and died significantly earlier than mice on normal diets.
But when a second group of mice on the high-fat diet were given resveratrol, a plant extract found in grapes, their health and longevity were almost indistinguishable from normal mice, although they still became obese.
Resveratrol has already been identified as the chemical behind the so-called French Paradox, the phenomenon in which French people have low rates of heart disease even though their diet is traditionally high in meat, cheese and bread.
"What we really would like to be the final answer, and can't quite say yet, is that resveratrol will mimic the effects of calorie restriction ЎЄ that it's going to trick your body into thinking that you're eating less calories by activating the same enzymes that get activated if you did eat less calories," said Joseph Baur of the team of Harvard.
For 70 years, scientists have shown that animals can live longer if fed fewer calories.