Chia oil may have anti-obesity effects: Brazilian data

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / pashapixel
© Getty Images / pashapixel
Supplementing the diet with chia oil may reduce fat accumulation and increased lean mass, and offer anti-obesity effects, according to a new study with mice.

Chia oil (ChOi) added to a high-fat rodent diet also led to an improvement in the activation of the insulin signaling pathway in muscle tissue, according to researchers from the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

“The molecular signaling effects observed in muscle tissue together with changes in body composition may have contributed to the healthy phenotype presented by the obese animals treated with ChOi,”​ they wrote in the journal Nutrition​.

“According to the concept of obesity presented by the World Health Organization, which considers obesity as an excess of adiposity that causes damage to health, the use of ChOi reduced the degree of obesity in the mice we studied, since it reduced fat mass and reversed the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.”

Chia seeds and oil

Interest in chia has increased over the past decade, linked to its omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid content. The global chia seed market is expected to reach US$1.5 billion by 2021, registering a CAGR of 40.62% during the forecasted period from 2016 to 2021, according to Research and Markets.

While much of the attention has focused on the seeds, there is a growing body of science supporting the health benefits of the oil. For example, a recent study published in Nutrients​ (2015, Vol. 7, No. 8, pp. 6405-6424)​ found that women consuming chia oil produced by Benexia transferred high levels of DHA to their infants during breast-feeding. The study was reportedly the first published study of its type involving pregnant and lactating women.

Study details

The Rio de Janeiro-based researchers fed male mice a regular chow or a high-fat diet for 135 days. In addition, another group fed the high-fat diet also received chia oil from 90 days onwards.

“To our knowledge, this was the first time that the insulin signaling pathway in skeletal muscle tissue has been investigated in obese animals in response to ChOi supplementation,” ​noted the researchers.

The data showed that chia oil supplementation increased lean mass and decreased fat mass, which could be related to an improvement in the glycemic response and greater efficiency in insulin signaling.

“Future studies should investigate whether the lean mass increase is caused by the activation of signaling pathways of muscle synthesis,” ​commented the researchers.

However, no changes to any markers of inflammation were observed, leading the researchers to note that the benefits seem independent of inflammation resolution.

“The results of our preclinical mechanistic study provide evidence that the use of ChOi could improve obese comorbidities even when offered along with an obesogenic diet,”​ concluded the researchers.

Source: Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2018.08.011
“Chia oil supplementation changes body composition and activates insulin signaling cascade in skeletal muscle tissue of obese animals”
Authors: T. Fonte-Faria et al.

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