A compound in red wine known as resveratrol has often been touted for its health benefits. Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols, which are found in some plants and thought to act like antioxidants. Resveratrol has been shown to prevent damage to blood vessels, lower cholesterol, and prevent blood clots. It may also help lower the risk of inflammation, which can lead to heart disease.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes. Red wine contains more resveratrol because red wine is fermented with the skins longer than white wine. You can also get resveratrol by eating grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries.

A study has also shown that resveratrol might have another health benefit: promoting weight loss. Researchers at Washington State University have discovered that resveratrol can convert excess white fat into something called beige fat, which begs a few questions:

What is white fat?

White fat, also known as white adipose tissue, is just one type of fat found in mammals. It’s the predominant type of fat in the body, and acts as insulation and cushioning for our internal organs. It produces hormones, including a type of estrogen and leptin, which helps control hunger. It’s also where lipids are stored as energy.

White fat is important for health and survival, but how much you have, and where it’s located on your body, are also important. White fat located around the belly, known as visceral fat, is associated with metabolic syndrome, which increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Women tend to start storing fat here during perimenopause, while men tend to accumulate visceral fat most of their lives. Too much white fat throughout the rest of the body can increase your risk of various types of cancer, sleep apnea, and other health conditions.

You need some white fat, but your goal should be to keep it within the recommended range: 15-25 percent body fat for men, and 15-30 percent body fat for women. Also try to control how much visceral fat you have.

What other types of fat do we have?

Humans and other mammals also have a type of fat known as brown fat, or brown adipose tissue, which helps burn calories and generate body heat. For this reason, brown fat is referred to as “good fat.” Brown fat usually accumulates around the neck and the upper back. Newborns tend to have a higher proportion of brown fat, which decreases as we age.

Because brown fat helps you burn more calories, you want as much of it as you can get. You generate brown fat through exercise, getting enough quality sleep, and exposing yourself to the cold (which makes exercising outdoors during the winter doubly beneficial!)

Is beige fat the same as brown fat?

No. For a long time, scientists thought we had only 2 types of fat. But several years ago, they discovered beige fat, which is in between white and brown. Beige fat is created from white fat in a process called “browning.” Evidently, resveratrol can enhance this conversion process. If you have enough browning, it can help prevent obesity.

The Washington State study used adult female mice who were fed a high-fat diet. Mice who also received resveratrol supplements were able to convert excess white fat into beige fat and were 40 percent less likely to develop obesity.

Researchers caution that this isn’t a license to start drinking a lot of wine, since too much alcohol can obviously have negative health consequences. But red wine in moderation may help you get rid of some of your excess white fat. For best results, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet — preferably one suited to your individual genetic traits. Research shows that people can lose up to 287% more excess weight when following a genetically appropriate diet. Your personalized blueprint from Vivaliti DNA can reveal your ideal diet type, as well as other genetic factors that influence your weight. Request a free consultation with a Vivaliti DNA health coach today to learn more!