June 24, 2012

Apple peel may increase brown fat


The appeal of an apple peel may raise the bar on the health benefits of a food. A new study by University of Iowa researchers suggests that a compound in apple peel increases the amount of muscle and brown fat in mice fed a high-fat diet.

The name of the apple peel compound that had the magical effect was ursolic acid.  After a few weeks, the mice treated with ursolic acid had gained muscle mass and calorie-burning brown fat. Unlike white fat that stores calories, brown fat burns calories. The  mice’s energy expenditure were measured. The mice fed ursolic acid burned more calories than mice that didn’t consume the chemical.

Although the building of muscle is clearly beneficial in weight loss, it was unexpected that the apple peel compound would increase brown fat, as well. This transcends the benefits initially expected from ursolic acid treatment.

The apple peel compound may be a target substance to treat pre-diabetes. Weight loss is a shift in the quantity of mass in the body. Weight loss that is induced by gain in quality body mass (brown fat) is a new level of healthy weight loss.

Before we ransack the produce isle at our local grocery store, the lead researcher  Dr. Christopher Adams offers a piece of advice. He says, “We don’t know if ursolic acid will benefit people” . That’s understandable. Many mice studies never translate into human studies. In the meantime I can appreciate a new spin on an old saying:

An apple a day may keep obesity at bay.

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