Brown Seaweed May Burn Away Fat
But Don't Prowl the Seas Just Yet; Early Studies Were in Rodents
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 11, 2006 -- The depths of the seas may harbor a compound that could
fizzle fat away.
But don't don your scuba gear just yet. The compound, called fucoxanthin,
isn't ready for prime time.
Fucoxanthin is an antioxidant found in wakame, a type of brown kelp used in
Fucoxanthin burned fat in lab tests on rats and obese mice, prompting the
rodents to lose weight, report Kazuo Miyashita, PhD, and colleagues.
Their findings were presented today at the American Chemical Society's 232nd
national meeting, in San Francisco.
Miyashita is a chemistry professor in the Graduate School of Fisheries
Sciences at Hokkaido University in Hokkaido, Japan.
He and his colleagues didn't try to feed seaweed to rodents. Instead, the
researchers isolated fucoxanthin and added it to the animals' chow.
The fucoxanthin appeared to boost the rodents' production of a protein
involved in fat metabolism, according to the researchers.
Also, levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) rose in
the rodent livers when the animals were fed fucoxanthin with soybean oil.
DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon and
has been linked to protective benefits against conditions like heart disease
It would be impractical for people to eat enough seaweed to see such a
benefit, Miyashita notes in an American Chemical Society news release.
He says he hopes to develop a pill containing fucoxanthin, adding that
studies in humans may be three to five years away.