Mate extract may slash body fat levels, says Frutarom study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

An extract from green mate may help reduce body fat more than placebo, according to new results from a randomized placebo-controlled human study.

Using Frutarom’s commercially available extract Finomate EFLA920, researchers report in the Journal of Functional Foods​ that six weeks of supplementation with the green mate extract produced a 0.5 kg reduction in body fat mass, compared to a 0.2 kg gain in the placebo group.

“Despite previous research providing supportive evidence of the weight reducing potential of mate, this is the first controlled trial showing that an anti-obesity effect may be ascribed to the ingestion of this herb,”​ wrote researchers led by Charlotte Storni from Frutarom Switzerland.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Korean scientists from the University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Korea National Training Center, Hallym University, and Inje University.

The study’s results were described as “promising”​ by Meesha Chang, product manager EFLA-Line for Frutarom.

“The successful results from the study have been further confirmed by consumers through positive feedback and testimonies on the efficacy of the commercial product containing our Finomate,”​ Chang told NutraIngredients-USA.

“We have an ongoing commitment to explore and develop high quality health ingredients backed up by science that can provide consumers with natural solutions.”

Market potential

With the World Health Organization estimating that by 2015, there will be more than 1.5 billion overweight consumers, the opportunities for a scientifically-substantiated weight management product are impressive.

The market for food, beverage and supplement weight management products is already valued at $3.64bn (2009 figures) in the US, according to Euromonitor. In Western Europe, the market was worth $1.3bn in 2009.

The slimming ingredients market can be divided into five groups based on the mechanisms of action – boosting fat burning/ thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/boosting satiety (feeling of fullness), blocking fat absorption, and regulating mood (linked to food consumption).

Commenting on the potential mechanism behind the potential weight management properties of mate, the researchers note that many of the components of mate leaves, such as caffeoylquinic acids, caffeine, theobromine and triterpenic saponins, have been reported to aid weight management.

In addition, studies have reported a potential thermogenic effect of the herb, while other studies have suggested satiating effects. The actual mechanism, however, remains to be elucidated.

Study details

Storni and her co-workers recruited 60 overweight people aged between 20 and 39 and randomly assigned them to receive placebo or supplements of the green mate extract (Ilex paraguariensis​ A. St.-Hil., 3 grams per day) for 6 weeks. All participants received diet and exercise counseling.

Using a technique called Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) the researchers assessed changes in body composition throughout the study. Results showed that people consuming the mate extract experienced an average decrease in percent of body fat of 0.3%, compared with an average increase of 0.6% in the placebo group.

In addition, the fat mass of the people in the mate group decreased by 0.5 kg, compared with an increase of 0.2 kg in the placebo group.

No differences in BMI or body weight were recorded between the groups.

Importantly, the researchers report no adverse events in both study groups.

“It can be stated that the reductions of percentage body fat and body fat mass in the group taking mate were significantly greater than those in the placebo group, which suggests that supplementation with green mate extract can support weight loss in overweight volunteers when combined with a balanced diet and regular physical activity,”​ wrote the researchers.

“This hypothesis, as well as the possible effects of a long-term application of the extract should be further studied in suitable obesity models.”

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2011.12.005
“Effect of green mate in overweight volunteers: A randomized placebo-controlled human study”
​Authors: H.J. Kim, J. Ko, C. Storni, H.J. Song, Y.G. Cho

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