Weight Loss Efforts May Get Help From Blueberries

Sep 2 2009 - 5:33pm
Weight loss and blueberry

Canadian researchers report that a modified blueberry juice may help reduce body weight and food intake, and thus help with weight loss efforts. The study was conducted in mice that were prone to obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.

Although the study was performed in mice, the investigators believe their results may eventually be extrapolated to humans to help with weight loss. Part of this belief may be rooted in results of previous research in which scientists found that extracted anthocyanins (a type of potent antioxidant) from blueberries and strawberries given to mice consuming a high-fat diet gained significantly less body weight and body fat than mice not taking the extract.

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Anthocyanins are phytonutrients (plant-derived nutrients) that are not only effective antioxidants but also the pigments that give blue, purple, and dark red fruits and vegetables their color. Various studies have credited anthocyanins with helping reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other conditions. This study is one of several looking at the possible benefits of anthocyanins in weight loss efforts.

In the current study, researchers modified blueberry juice using Serrati vaccinii bacterium, which enhances antioxidant activity. The researchers utilized mice known to be excellent models for obesity and obesity-linked type 2 diabetes in humans. When the modified blueberry juice was given to obese and diabetic mice, the animals had a significant decrease in food intake and body weight. Intake of the blueberry juice also caused significantly reduced high blood glucose levels in diabetic mice.

The researchers believe the weight loss and blood glucose effects seen in the current study may be related to the impact of the modified blueberry juice on levels of adiponectin, a hormone that regulates various metabolic processes. Scientists are not certain whether there are other factors in blueberries besides anthocyanins that have an impact on weight loss and obesity or whether a single anthocyanin or more than one may be responsible for the effects seen in this and previous studies. More than 300 distinct anthocyanins have been identified thus far.

SOURCES:
Prior RL et al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2008 Feb 13; 56(3): 647-53
Vuong T et al. International Journal of Obesity, 2009 Aug 18

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