A cuppa fortified with olive leaf extract may be the new tool to fight obesity, Australian researchers have found.
The University of Southern Queensland research team led by Dr Lindsay Brown found the phytochemical oleuropein, which is found in large quantities in olive leaf extract, reduced fat stores in rats.
Oleuropein has double the antioxidants as green tea and is recognised for lowering blood pressure, preventing colds and treating cardiovascular problems.
However this study has shown its benefits reach beyond just an immunity booster.
In the study, rats were fed a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for eight weeks until they developed signs of metabolic syndrome (ie, abdominal fat, glucose intolerance and fatty liver). They were then given coffee fortified with olive leaf extract for a further eight weeks, which resulted in a reversal of these symptoms.
Dr Brown said the olive leaf extract led to the weight loss due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
"When we first started we expected that the rats' blood pressure might change because we already knew that olive oil is beneficial for the heart," Dr Brown said in a media release.
"What we found was that the rats that were fed the olive leaf were healthy. The adverse effects of the high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet the inflammation of the heart, liver and fat pads were completely reversed."
Dr Brown said this study has shown that a natural, side-effect-free product can be effective for weight loss and could be a simple way to control obesity and blood-pressure and prevent diabetes.
The university will conduct human trials later this year.
"The anti-inflammatory properties of this particular compound help to prevent fat storage and therefore had a knock-on effect to good weight control," nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan Price told TODAY.
"Whether we can make that massive to leap from rats and what happens in rats to what happens in humans is where the question mark comes in," she said.
"We know overweight and obesity is associated with a sort of chronic low-grade level of inflammation. And so what I think might be going on is that if we can take things that help to reduce some of the effects of that inflammation then maybe we can have an effect on some of the negative side effects of being overweight."
However, Dr McMillan Price warns that it's certainly not a quick fix.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition was partly funded by Dr Red Nutraceuticals, a Queensland company that sells olive leaf extract tea and coffee.
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Olive Leaf Extract, in Natural or Peppermint flavour, 500ml RRP $39.95.