Researchers in Australia tested the effects of fruit and vegetable (F&V) concentrate supplements in adults aged over 40 and with BMIs above 28kg/m2. Fifty-six subjects were put onto a diet low in fruit and vegetables, then given either Juice Plus+ Orchard, Garden and Berry Blends capsules or a placebo for eight weeks.
Across all participants the researchers saw a 3.5% reduction in total cholesterol, including LDL cholesterol, which they estimated to be equivalent to weight loss of 4kg and up to a 9% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
Better results for subjects with inflammation
In subjects with elevated systemic inflammation, measured using C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, the effect was larger, with a 7.4% reduction in total cholesterol, equivalent to weight loss of 9kg and an 18-19% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
“[T]his randomised controlled trial in obese, older individuals shows that F&V concentrate supplementation has the potential to improve the metabolic profile of overweight and obese individuals by reducing blood lipid levels and systemic inflammation, as well as improving body composition,” wrote the researchers in their paper, published in Nutrients.
“Interestingly, while significant changes were seen in the whole group of participants, the changes were more pronounced in subjects who had elevated CRP levels at baseline. Hence, while all obese individuals are likely to gain some benefit from supplementation with F&V concentrate, those with high baseline systemic inflammation or blood lipids appear likely to obtain the greatest improvements,” they added.
Among other findings, the researchers saw “a small, but statistically-significant reduction in TNFα in the full cohort analysis, with a much greater reduction seen in the high baseline CRP subgroup analysis”.
TNFα is a cell signalling protein involved in systemic inflammation, with a primary role of regulating immune cells. The researchers suggested the high levels of beta-carotene in the F&V supplements may have had a role in reducing TNFα levels, as shown in previous studies.
Gene expression changed
The supplementation also appeared to alter gene expression: “Microarray analysis revealed that 1632 genes were differentially expressed after supplementation with the F&V concentrate. One thousand one hundred forty six genes were upregulated, while 486 genes were downregulated.
“From the genes that were significantly differentially expressed, several genes were identified that are involved in biologically-relevant signalling pathways, including: lipogenesis, NF-kB [involved in immune system regulation] and AMPK [involved in cellular metabolism] pathways,” the authors added.
The F&V supplement capsules contained extracts from 24 fruits and vegetables, and provided the following nutrients: beta-carotene 3.05 mg/day, α-tocopherol 4.8 mg/day, vitamin C 300 mg/day, folate 350 mg/day and polyphenols ~600 mg/day.
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3390/nu9020116
“Effects of an Encapsulated Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate on Obesity-Induced Systemic Inflammation: A Randomised Controlled Trial”
Authors: Williams, E.J.; Baines, K.J.; Berthon, B.S.; Wood, L.G