20.04.2024

Is THIS a new miracle weight loss supplement?

A supplement derived from a flower might be a ‘hero’ weight loss ingredient, claim experts. The brightly red roselle plant, native to Africa, is packed full of potent compounds that researchers think have ‘anti-obesity’ properties.

Lab tests suggested that it hinders the body from forming new fat cells.

Australian scientists believe antioxidants in the plant stop the body from absorbing fat, leading it to being passed as waste instead of stored.

Professor Ben Adhikari, one of the RMIT University in Melbourne researchers behind the study, said the fat-fighting compounds in roselle could be made into a supplement that ‘interferes with the formation of fat cells’.

It would avoid the side effects of other weight-loss treatments, such as the nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea caused by wonder jab Wegovy, which was approved in the UK this week.

For the experiment, the researchers freeze dried the flowers to extract antioxidant compounds (phenolic extracts) and organic acid (hydroxycitric acid).

For the experiment, the researchers freeze dried the flowers to extract antioxidant compounds (phenolic extracts) and organic acid (hydroxycitric acid).

The findings, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology , show that cells treated with hydroxycitric acid showed no change in fat content. But those exposed to phenolic extracts — a type of polyphenol — had 95 per cent less fat than control cells

The findings, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology , show that cells treated with hydroxycitric acid showed no change in fat content. But those exposed to phenolic extracts — a type of polyphenol — had 95 per cent less fat than control cells

But other researchers are not as convinced.

Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and researcher from Aston Medical School in Birmingham, said the research is at a ‘very early stage’.

He told MailOnline: ‘[It] has not been shown to affect body weight or fat in animals, let alone humans.

Fat accumulates in the body when a person consumes more energy — in the form of calories — than they expend.

Excess calories are stored as fat within specialised fat cells, called adipocytes.

Adipocytes are vital for regulating the body’s energy and sugar levels.

However, eating too much over time will cause adipocytes to expand or new ones to form, leading to weight gain and obesity.

The study examined how components in roselle, also known as Hibiscus Sabdariffa, could interrupt this process.

Previous studies had shown compounds contained within the plant could interfere with fat build-up and obesity.

For the experiment, the researchers freeze dried the flowers to extract antioxidant compounds (phenolic extracts) and organic acid (hydroxycitric acid).

They then treated human stem cells with either phenolic extracts, hydroxycitric acid or neither of the compounds before artificially turning the cells into fat cells.

Cells treated with hydroxycitric acid showed no change in fat content.

But those exposed to phenolic extracts — a type of polyphenol — had 95 per cent less fat.

The researchers said their findings may be down to the polyphenols in the roselle, which inhibit the digestive enzyme called lipase.

This enzyme helps break down fats into small pieces so they are absorbed by the body through the intestine. The excess fats are turned into fat cells.

By inhibiting the lipase enzyme, the fat cannot be absorbed so it is passed through the colon as waste, the researchers said.

The team said this process is similar to how some obesity management drugs work.

Professor Adhikari claimed that the results may impact treatment for obesity, which currently involves diet and exercise advice, medication or surgery.

He said: ‘The phenolic extracts from the roselle could help create a health food product that is effective in interfering with the formation of fat cells, but also bypass the bad side effects of some medications.’

The UK this week approved weight loss jab Wegovy.

But while trials found those on it lost around 12 per cent of their body weight, common side effects include headaches, heartburn and tiredness.

In contrast, because rosella’s phenolic extracts — which the researchers believe drive fat loss — are plant-derived, they should trigger no or fewer side effects, the researchers claim.

The team now plan to turn these extracts into ‘little beads’ that can be consumed, such as in a drink.

Dr Mellor noted that many foods already contain phenolic compounds and organic acids, and these are not all well absorbed by our bodies.

‘So what works in the test tube may not work well in a whole person,’ he said.

Dr Mellor said: ‘We also need to be careful to say that polyphenols could help manage conditions like obesity without side effects of medications, as some medications are very similar to these compounds found in plants, and they do have side-effects.

‘Just because something is natural, it is not automatically healthy or has a lower risk of side effects than a drug.’

He added: ‘It will be interesting to se how this research develops, but it is important to remember it is at the earliest stages in the lab, and more work is needed to test it is a safe and effective treatment for humans.’

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