A study by Canadian researchers shows that an active ingredient present only in avocados may control weight gain and prevent diabetes.
Obesity is increasingly becoming a serious health threat in countries across the world. In Canada, where the new study was done, around one in every four people is obese.
Being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk for different medical conditions. Obesity, for instance, makes a person more likely to develop insulin resistance, or Type 2 diabetes. People who are insulin-resistant are less able to get rid of glucose from their blood.
Obesity and diabetes can occur when mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, fail to burn fatty acids efficiently. The disorders are also believed to inhibit fatty acid oxidation, an important process that helps the body to burn fat.
In this new study, researchers showed that a compound that can only be found in avocados may help fight obesity and diabetes. They also found that the active ingredient was safe for humans.
The findings were published recently in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
Managing obesity and diabetes
The researchers, led by Professor Paul Spagnuolo, demonstrated in the study how a compound called avocatin B, or AvoB, may inhibit processes that lead to obesity and diabetes. This fat molecule is present only in avocados.
The research team placed mice on diets having high amounts of fats for a period of eight weeks. They did this to induce weight gain and insulin resistance.
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They then gave half of the animals high-fat diets with added AvoB for the following five weeks.
Mice that received the compound gained significantly less body weight, compared to those in the control group.
In addition, the treated mice became more sensitive to insulin in comparison to non-treated ones. This means their body’s ability to absorb and remove glucose from the blood increased.
The researchers found that AvoB helps to address flawed fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle and the pancreas.
They also went further to investigate the safety of this compound in a human clinical study. Participants safely absorbed an AvoB supplement into their blood without any safety issues. The human subjects also showed reductions in weight, although this effect was not statistically significant.
Testing the efficacy of AvoB
Spagnuolo disclosed that the safety trial was useful for knowing just how much of the compound should be in a supplement formulation.
The researchers now want to carry out clinical trials to learn more about the efficacy of AvoB. They wish to learn how it might help for treatment of different metabolic disorders.
According to Spagnuolo, eating avocados alone would likely not be effective for fighting obesity and diabetes. One of the reasons for this is the wide variability of AvoB content in avocados. In addition, researchers do not fully know how the fruit is digested and absorbed yet.
The University of Guelph scientists expressed need for more research to know about the potential of avocados to aid weight loss.
Spagnuolo noted a healthy diet and exercise are helpful for preventing metabolic disorders that could result in obesity or diabetes.
He revealed the compound will go on sale in pill and powder forms as early as 2020. Health Canada has already granted approval for AvoB as a dietary supplement for humans.
Spagnuolo also studied how the molecule could help for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia in previous research.