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Wine Waste: The New Superfood?

DAVIS (CBS13) – We love to drink it, but eating it could be even better. We have all heard about the health benefits of drinking wine, but researchers out of UC Davis say don't throw out the waste, it may be the best medicine to fight major diseases.

Vineyards, wine and California go hand in hand. The state makes 85% of all wine in the U.S, producing nearly 4 million tons every year. While we sip and savor, food scientists at UC Davis found there is potentially a huge benefit from the grapes we're missing.

"We can give a second life to the grapes by doing the chemistry," explained Professor Daniela Barile.

Barile found processing residue like grape skin, seeds, and pulp can all be reused by isolating sugar molecules in white grapes called oligosaccharides. The sugar molecules in turn help to feed bacteria in your gut.

"Right now, we have an epidemic of diabetes, obesity, inflammatory diseases, asthma. All of those are linked in some ways to the gut microbiome," she said.

Along with health benefits, researchers' goal is to help with sustainability by repurposing and giving second lives to grapes to avoid waste

"There is a huge need to recover waste, especially waste that contains molecules that can feed the gut microbiome because that is the biggest predominant determination of health," Barile explained.

Once the waste is harvested and broken down it can be made into several different things.

Amanda Sinrod, a graduate student researcher at UC Davis, spends her time in the lab breaking down the chemistry of the grapes to find ways to harvest the nutrients.

"When you pour a glass of wine, you don't actually think of everything that goes into it normally. You especially don't think what's left out of it," said Sinrod.

Some companies are already using their study to make things like chocolate and health supplements.

"This is basically a good way of having a Cinderella story, taking this waste compound, making it into a food that can not only feed people but can make people healthier," she said.

To be effective, you would have to consume around a few grams a day. While we can't pop the cork on all the benefits just yet, researchers say a time for a toast is not too far away.

"Getting this onto the shelves for consumers to eat, could be the next best thing in wine. You can drink it but you can also eat your wine too," said Sinrod.

According to Sinrod, about 30% of the weight of a grape is wasted during the winemaking process.

Researchers say it will take another two years to study how growing conditions and processing affects the potential health benefits.

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