That finding was reported this week at the 228th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society by Agnes Rimando, PhD, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Products Utilization Research Center in Oxford, Miss.
Rimando measured how strongly pterostilbene affected an enzyme involved in regulating blood fat levels. In tests on rat liver cells, the researchers found that the grape compound's effect on the enzyme was equal to that of ciprofibrate, a drug used outside the U.S. to lower triglycerides and cholesterol. This drug is in the same class as drugs that are available in the U.S., including Lopid and Tricor.
In addition, pterostilbene outperformed resveratrol, a similar grape compound that's also shown promise in cutting cholesterol and blood fats.
Both grape compounds have also shown cancer-fighting properties in laboratory studies.
Grapes don't have the market cornered on pterostilbene. Blueberries also have it, giving them fat- and cholesterol-fighting properties, Rimando reported earlier this week.
How many grapes do you have to eat to reap the benefits? No one knows yet.
But you can bet that researchers will head back to the grapevine for further studies.