July 15, 2009

Flavonoid helps mice to lose weight

The flavonoid naringenin -- a plant-based bioactive molecule from citrus fruit -- was found to help mice lose weight, Canadian researchers said.

Murray Huff of the Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario said one group of mice was fed a high-fat, or Western, diet to induce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A second group of mice was fed the exact same diet and treated with naringenin.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes, found naringenin corrected the elevations in triglyceride and cholesterol, prevented the development of insulin resistance and completely normalized glucose metabolism.

The researchers said it worked by genetically reprogramming the liver to burn up excess fat, rather than storing fat.

Furthermore, the marked obesity that develops in these mice was completely prevented by naringenin, Huff said in a statement.

What was unique about the study was that the effects were independent of caloric intake, meaning the mice ate exactly the same amount of food and the same amount of fat. There was no suppression of appetite or decreased food intake, which are often the basis of strategies to reduce weight gain and its metabolic consequences.

Grapefruit has long been linked to weight loss diets, but the concentrations of the citrus-derived flavonoid being studied are at higher levels than you could get from dietary components, Huff said.