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Based on previous research, scientists fromThe Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has extracted the antioxidant compounds, phenols, from the flowers of Rosella, a member of the hibiscus family. The researchers also extracted hydroxycitric acid from the flowers.
Then individual batches of human stem cellswere treated with either phenolic extract or hydroxycitric acid before they initiated differentiation into adipocytes (fat cells). Although the acid did not appear to affect adipocytes, fat cells derived from phenol-treated stem cells were found to contain 95% less fat than a control group of untreated cells.
It turned out that the phenolic extract inhibitedactivity of the digestive enzyme, lipase. It usually breaks down absorbed fats into small segments that are absorbed through the intestinal wall. Excess fats, which are not currently required by the body for energy, are stored in fat cells. By preventing lipase from doing its job, rosella phenols allow them to simply pass through the digestive system.
Encapsulated beads of phenolic extract of rosella. Photo: RMIT
Scientists now hope to encapsulate the extractfor use in nutritional supplements that will not have side effects such as high blood pressure. They are typical for weight loss pharmaceuticals.
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