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A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dark Chocolate for Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious disease most commonly caused by alcoholism. When a person is continually drinking alcohol, it can inhibit two very important proteins – AMPK and SIRT1 – from doing their very important job of breaking down fats in the liver. The result of these proteins being inhibited can turn to alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcoholic fatty liver disease can cause other diseases such as fibrosis and cirrhosis, and can even result in a liver transplant or death.

Fortunately, a new study has found that an antioxidant called resveratrol can help reverse and prevent the disease by stimulating AMPK and SIRT1 and clearing fat from the liver. In fact, reserveratrol may not only treat already established build-up, but may also be helpful for preventing the build-up of fats in the liver before they are dangerously affecting drinkers.

In the study researchers fed mice a healthy, low-fat diet and also fed some mice alcohol, some resveratrol, and some a combination of alcohol and resveratrol. The study found that when mice were given resveratrol they had less fat produced in the liver and stimulated AMPK and SIRT1 proteins. Resveratrol also stimulated a reduction in other liver proteins involved in fat build up and increased adiponectin, a hormone responsible for metabolizing fat.

This could be a landmark study, suggesting that humans could possibly reduce their chances of alcoholic fatty liver disease by eating foods that are high in the antioxidant. Peanuts, grapes, red wine and now, dark chocolate, baking chocolate, and cocoa are known to contain high amounts of resveratrol.

Perhaps all those bartenders who serve bowls of peanuts have a sixth sense that peanuts are healthy for their clientele, but probably not. Maybe bars should add grapes and dark chocolate to their bar snack-food.

Even though red wine has a high amount of resveratrol, it is still alcohol, so the results of drinking red wine to break down fats in the liver is unknown. Although, since red wine has the highest amount of resveratrol known (with dark chocolate coming in a close second) it is undoubtedly better for you than other alcohols.

While foods with resveratrol are possibly helpful for preventing and reducing alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most important finding in this study is that resveratrol is a potential, capable treatment for treating and preventing the disease. In the meantime, if you’re going to drink, grab some grapes and don’t forget to happily eat your dark chocolate!

A glass of red wine with some dark chocolate isn’t as bad as once thought.

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