SEP 12, 2018 7:09 AM PDT

Can This Exotic Fruit Prevent Obesity?

Not a week goes by that there isn’t a new superfood or some exotic fruit or spice that can curb your appetite, burn fat while you sleep, and boost energy. Green coffee bean extract, black cohosh, and so many other substances promise quick weight loss and extra energy.

Most of them are not legit, and there is little to no science behind them. That doesn’t mean that there are no herbs or plants to help with diet, however. New research on the Amazonian (from the rainforest region, not the online retailer), fruit camu camu, could change that. While it’s not entirely proven that it’s an easy way to drop those extra pounds, there is some promising research on it. A study by scientists at Université Laval and the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Research Centre suggests that the extract from camu camu prevents obesity in mice, even if they were fed a diet of high fat, high sugar chow.

What’s unique about camu camu other than a really cool Flintstone-like name? The fruit contains 20 to 30 times more vitamin C than kiwi fruit and 5 times more polyphenols than blackberries. Previous research into polyphenols has shown health benefits of berries rich in the compound, so investigators wanted to look at other fruits that contain it to see if there might be a benefit.

The researchers had two groups of lab mice for the study. Both groups got a diet of rat chow that was full of sugar and fat. One group also got camu camu extract along with their food every day. After a full eight weeks on this regimen, the team observed that the mice who had the camu camu added to their diet had 50% less weight gain than the mice who did not. Even more significant was that the third group of mice, who were fed a diet low in sugar and fat showed the same weight changes as the camu camu mice, even though their diets were vastly different. Essentially, mice who had camu camu added to their high fat, high sugar unhealthy diet had the same outcome as those on a low fat, low sugar diet. The researchers opine that the difference was due to an increase in resting metabolic rate in the mice who got the extract.

The weight issue was not the only benefit seen in the study. Mice who had camu camu with their chow also showed better glucose tolerance, less insulin sensitivity. Blood tests on the mice revealed reduced concentrations of “blood endotoxins” and markers for metabolic inflammation. André Marette is a professor at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and the principal investigator for the study. He explained, "All these changes were accompanied by a reshaping of the intestinal microbiota, including a blooming of A. muciniphila and a significant reduction in Lactobacillus bacteria. Camu camu thus exerts its positive metabolic effects at least in part through the modulation of the gut microbiota." Check out the video below to see if this fancy fruit extract could be something you want to add to your diet.

Sources: BMJ Gut New Atlas Université Laval via Science Daily

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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