SYDNEY, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Antioxidants in the roselle plant have anti-obesity properties that could help in food alternatives to current weight management medications, according to a study led by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University).
The research, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology in December last year, investigated how antioxidant compounds (phenolic extracts) and organic acid (hydroxycitric acid) obtained from Hibiscus sabdariffa, a hardy roselle, could inhibit the formation of fat cells.
While cells treated with hydroxycitric acid showed no change in the fat content of the adipocytes, the phenolic extracts were able to reduce lipid accumulation by about 95 percent in human adipose-derived stem cells.
"These polyphenolic compounds are plant-derived and can be consumed, there should be fewer or no side effects," Manisha Singh, lead author and Ph.D. candidate at RMIT University, said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the statement, excess fat intake can cause the formation of fat cells called adipocytes, which are vital for regulating the body's energy and sugar levels. If energy intake exceeds expenditure, it can lead to an increase in both the size and number of fat cells, contributing to obesity.
"The phenolic extracts from the roselle could help create a health food product that is effective in interfering with the formation of fat cells, but also bypass the bad side effects of some medications," said Benu Adhikari, coauthor and professor at RMIT University.
As for the next step, the team plans to encapsulate phenolic extracts for use in health food products, as the experts believe that the extracts could be turned into little beads and used to make refreshing drinks. ■