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Melon extract may help against obesity: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 06-Jul-2009

Daily consumption of an antioxidant-rich melon extract may prevent obesity, according to a study with hamsters fed a high fat diet.

Consumption of the commercially-available extract Extramel, produced by France’s Bionov, in combination with a high-fat diet resulted in 29 per cent lower body weight compared to animals fed only the high-fat diet, according to findings published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

“The major novel finding in our experimental conditions, and in comparison to HF, is that Extramel prevented obesity in high-fat fed hamsters by decreasing body weight, abdominal fat, triglyceridemia, insulinemia, insulin resistance, liver lipids, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and preventing adipokine imbalance,” wrote the researchers, led by Jean-Max Rouanet from the University of Montpellier.

The melon-extract is a rich source of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Dubbed 'the enzyme of life' when first discovered in 1968, it is the first antioxidant mobilised by the cell for defence. It is thought to be more powerful than antioxidant vitamins as it activates the body's production of its own antioxidants, including catalase and glutathione peroxidase.

Study details

In collaboration with researchers from BioNov, the University Hopsital Gui de Chauliac in Montpellier, and INRA, the University of Montpellier researchers divided hamsters into five groups. One group consumed a standard diet, while the other four consumed a high-fat diet supplemented with one of four doses of Extramel – 0, 0.7, 2.8, or 5.6 mg per day.

Dr Rouanet told NutraIngredients that hamsters were used because their development of atherosclerosis is similar to humans.

After 84 days, the highest dose of the melon-extract was associated with a 68 per cent lowered triglyceridemia, 35 per cent lower levels of lipid and protein oxidation products, as well as increased levels of adiponectin, a protein-hormone produced by fat cells that plays a role in glucose and fat metabolism.

The researchers also report a 41 per cent reduction in insulin resistance, and a 25 per cent reduction in abdominal lipids.

“The extract triggered a remarkable decrease of liver lipids (73 per cent),” wrote the researchers.

Potential for obesity

“To summarize, Extramel prevented obesity in high fat-fed hamsters by decreasing body abdominal and liver fat and by preventing adipokine imbalance,” wrote the researchers.

The results were welcomed by Christian Yard, technical director for Avignon-based Bionov. “Manufacturers can put Extramel with other ingredients so this gives them to the key to the door for health claims on their products,” he told NutraIngredients.com.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, 25 June 2009, doi: 10.1021/jf900504g
“Preventive Effect of a Melon Extract Rich in Superoxide Scavenging Activity on Abdominal and Liver Fat and Adipokine Imbalance in High-Fat-Fed Hamsters”
Authors: K. Décordé, A. Agne, D. Lacan, J. Ramos, G. Fouret, E. Ventura, C. Feillet-Coudray, J.-P. Cristol, J.-M. Rouanet

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