Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brown Seaweed Contains Promising Fat Fighter, Weight Reducer

Date:
September 19, 2006
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Chemists in Japan have found that brown seaweed, a flavor component used in many Asian soups and salads, contains a compound that appears in animal studies to promote weight loss by reducing the accumulation of fat. The compound, fucoxanthin, could be developed into a natural extract or drug to help fight obesity, the researchers say.

Brown seaweed, used as a flavor component in many Asian soups and salads, contains a compound that appears in animal studies to promote weight loss by reducing the accumulation of fat, according to researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan. Shown is Undaria pinnatifida, a type of brown seaweed also known as wakame.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Kazuo Miyashita, Ph.D., Hokkaido University, Japan

Chemists in Japan have found that brown seaweed, a flavor component used in many Asian soups and salads, contains a compound that appears in animal studies to promote weight loss by reducing the accumulation of fat. Called fucoxanthin, the compound achieved a 5 percent to 10 percent weight reduction in test animals and could be developed into a natural extract or drug to help fight obesity, the researchers say.

The compound targets abdominal fat, in particular, and may help reduce oversized guts, the scientists say. Their study was presented at the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Fucoxanthin is a brownish pigment that gives brown seaweed its characteristic color and also conducts photosynthesis (the conversion of light to energy). It is found at high levels in several different types of brown seaweed, including a type of kelp that is used in traditional Japanese miso soup. But fucoxanthin is not found in abundance in green and red seaweed, which also are used in many Asian foods, the researchers say.

The brown seaweed used in the current study was Undaria pinnatifida, a type of kelp also known as wakame, which is widely consumed in Japan. As kelp forests are found in abundance along the California coast, the new research findings could represent a potentially lucrative market if kelp -- of which there are many varieties -- can be developed into effective anti-obesity drugs, according to the scientists.

"I hope that our study [points to a way to] help reduce obesity in the U.S. and elsewhere," says study leader Kazuo Miyashita, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at Hokkaido University in Hokkaido, Japan. The compound appears to fight fat through two different mechanisms, he says.

The study involved more than 200 rats and mice. In obese animals fed fucoxanthin, the compound appeared to stimulate a protein, UCP1, that causes fat oxidation and conversion of energy to heat, Miyashita says. The protein is found in white adipose tissue, the type of fat that surrounds internal organs. As the abdominal area contains abundant adipose tissue, the compound might be particularly effective at shrinking oversized guts, the researcher says. This is the first time that a natural food component has been shown to reduce fat by targeting the UCP1 protein, he says.

The pigment also appeared in animal studies to stimulate the liver to produce a compound called DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, at levels comparable to fish oil supplementation. Increased levels of DHA reduce 'bad cholesterol' (low density lipoprotein), which is known to contribute to obesity and heart disease. But unlike fish oil supplements, fucoxanthin doesn't have an unpleasant smell, Miyashita says. No adverse side effects from fucoxanthin were reported in the mice and rats used in the study.

But eating lots of seaweed is not the quickest or most convenient path to weight loss, Miyashita cautions. He notes that a person would probably need to eat huge amounts of brown seaweed daily to cause noticeable weight loss. That's because fucoxanthin is tightly bound to proteins in the seaweed and is not easily absorbed in the form of whole seaweed. However, he hopes to extract the most active form of fucoxanthin from brown seaweed so that it can be developed into a pill that people can take daily or as needed.

Human studies are planned, the researcher says, but adds that it may take three to five years before such an anti-obesity pill is available to consumers. Until then, people should continue to eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of exercise, he says. Funding for the current study was provided by the Japanese government.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Brown Seaweed Contains Promising Fat Fighter, Weight Reducer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915204728.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2006, September 19). Brown Seaweed Contains Promising Fat Fighter, Weight Reducer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915204728.htm
American Chemical Society. "Brown Seaweed Contains Promising Fat Fighter, Weight Reducer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915204728.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins