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Drinking tea while eating sweets prevents obesity - study suggests

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By David Liu, PH.D.

Sunday Jan 01, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or otherwise known as corn sugar has been associated with the obesity epidemic in the United States.  Laboratory studies suggest the association may not be incidental, but causal, meaning that eating too much of foods or drinking too much of beverages with high levels of high fructose corn syrup may increase the risk of obesity.

There is good news for those who enjoy drinking HFCS-loaded drinks or foods.  A new study published online Nov 30, 2011 in the journal Food and Function suggests that consuming green tea leaves may help offset some bad effects from HFCS.  And findings of this study also suggest that drinking tea may help weight loss and reduce risk of metabolic syndrome.

Authors Hsiu-Chen Huang and Jen-Kun Lin say in their study report that green tea extract has been found to be able to suppress hyperlipidemia.  The current study was intended to examine how tea extracts prepared from green tea (unfermented tea), oolong tea (semi-fermented tea), black and pu-erh teas (fermented teas) modulate fatty acid synthase expression in rats fed on a diet high in fructose. Fructose is found in homeny, table sugar or sucrose,  and high fructose corn syrup, many fruits.

For the study, the researchers fed male Winster rats high-fructose diet with or without supplementation of tea extracts for 12 weeks and evaluated the hypolipidemic and hypoleptinemic effect of these four tea leaves.

The study showed that high-fructose diet increased serum triacylglycerols, cholesterol, insulin, and leptin concentrations, compared with those rats that were eating a control diet. Consuming tea leaves for 12 weeks was found to be able to normalize the serum triacylglycerols concentrations.

Specifically, rats fed green tea or pu-erh tea along with the high fructose diet had lower levels in serum thyroglobulin, cholesterol, insulin and leptin levels, compared with rats fed only high fructose diet.

However, oolong tea could not normalize serum cholesterol and insulin concentrations in the rats fed high fructose diet.

Nevertheless, the relative epididymal adipose tissue weight was found lower in all rats fed both high fructose diet and tea leaves than those fed fructose diet alone. 

Some molecular evidence explains why tea leaves can help overcome the side effect of high fructose diet. 

The researchers found supplementation of green, black, and pu-erh tea leaves significantly decreased hepatic fatty acid synthase mRNA and protein levels, and increased AMPK phosphorylation, which are believed to be beneficial in this case, compared with those of rats fed fructose diet only. 

Some people have already observed that drinking tea can help weight loss or fight obesity.

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