An Australian researcher who deliberately fed his lab rats a high-sugar/high-fat diet says that a flavonoid called rutin helped block the growth of fat cells in their abdomens and kept them from putting on weight despite their bad diet. Flavonoids are plant pigments that researchers are finding have beneficial metabolic effects because of their antioxidant capabilities.
Professor Lindsay Brown, of the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Australia, tested a range of foods on the rats he was feeding unhealthily. They included onions, green tea, olive leaf extract, purple carrots, and chia seeds. The onions and olive leaf extract contained a flavonoid called rutin (also found in buckwheat, apple peels, red wine, noni [Indian mulberry], and citrus fruits) that Brown believes prevented-or even reversed-certain metabolic changes in the rats.
Brown reported that his rutin-fed rats not only had a decreased number of abdominal fat cells by the end of the study, but lost weight as well. His research may point a way to addressing obesity and such related diseases as diabetes, fatty liver, and heart disease in humans. The hope is that even if obese persons continue to eat poorly, the addition of rutin to their intake could help offset their diets’ negative effects.
Brown’s findings have been published in the Journal of Nutrition and Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.