Obesity is a growing problem worldwide. Some sources have taken to calling it the “obesity epidemic,” a moniker that is backed by statistics. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates that 35 percent of adults just in the U.S. are obese, while 34 percent are overweight. Among children and adolescents, almost 32 percent are either overweight or obese.
What makes obesity worrisome isn’t the number of pounds one has to lose, but the complications that come with the condition. According to a Harvard University study, having a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 kg/m2 increased one’s risk of dying early by seven percent. For every five units above a BMI of 25 kg/m2, the risk of premature death climbed by about 31 percent.
Some people who have difficulty controlling their weight turn to synthetic supplements and medications which, most of the time, have short-term effects. Furthermore, discontinuing the medication can result in a relapse. For this reason, a lot of studies are looking at functional foods and their bioactive compounds as a possible solution to the problem.
Glasswort (Salicornia europaea), also known as common or jointed glasswort, is a plant that grows in high-salt coastal marshes. In fact, it loves highly saline environments so much that it can be grown using saltwater irrigation without the need for pesticides or fertilizers. It is one of several known halophytes (plants that grow in high-salt environments) that are edible, being a popular addition to salads and other dishes in East Asia where it is commonly found.
Past research has established that the plant has anti-lipidemic properties, the ability to lower the levels of fat in one’s blood, and that it contains dietary fiber known for its ability to curb appetite. The authors decided to test the extent of glasswort’s antiobesity effects, but because the plant’s powder form usually contains a lot of salt, they opted for desalted S. europaea powder (DSP) as a healthier and more attractive functional food against obesity.
They divided 50 rats into five groups:
G. cambogia is a popular hypolipidemic plant that’s sold as a weight loss aid. The treatment lasted for 12 weeks. The authors’ findings showed that compared to the HFD group, the administration of 250 and 500 mg/kg of DSP lowered body weight by 4.6 percent and 10.1 percent respectively. GE resulted in a reduction of 7.88 percent. Both DSP and GE did not affect the animals’ appetite.
The analysis identified trans-ferulic acid (TFA) as the main ingredient behind glasswort powder’s antiobesity effect. The authors investigated if DFA has the ability to suppress adipogenesis or the increase in adipose tissue mass. Adipose tissues are responsible for the storage of fats as a backup energy source – abnormalities in them have been linked to many cases of obesity.
The researchers found that the TFA in desalted glasswort powder effectively attenuated the expression of adipogenesis-related genes, as well as the differentiation of adipocytes or fat cells. These findings led them to conclude that desalted glasswort powder may be used as a functional food against obesity because of its antiobesity and antiadipogenic properties.
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