12 January - 20 June 2016

Investigating fat free flavour active compounds of olive oil on the brain

25 Sept 13

A study by Frank et al published in the American Journal of Nutrition, notes that despite numerous research addressing outcome variables for different diets, such as weight loss, body fat reduction, or cardiovascular benefits, one possible obstacle for the benefits of low fat products may be their action on the brain.   The scientists report that food-related processes can be split into main processes: homeostatic control, which is mainly responsible for caloric balance, and hedonic control, which can interact with the homeostatic system, potentially leading to over or under consumption of food.  It is especially influenced by the flavour of ingested food.  Previous research by the authors of this new study reported that total fat content influences gustatory and homeostatic brain regions within 30 minutes and up to 2 hours after consumption.   This study involved the consumption of a high and low fat yogurt and analysed cerebral blood flow.  Decreased CBF in the high fat condition was observed after 30 minutes in the hypothalamus and an increased activity was found in the anterior insular cortex after 120 minutes.  Frank et al state that this indicated that fat modulated gustatory and homeostatic brain regions.  In this current study involving 11 healthy male participants, the scientists investigated if adding flavour active compounds from an olive oil into a low fat yogurt leads to a different activity in gustatory taste areas and the hypothalamus compared to low fat yogurt.  The scientists tested whether this flavoured yogurt had the same activity as they found in previous research after high fat yogurt ingestion.  On 2 measurement days, the participants, who had fasted overnight, and who had recorded emotional and physical variables consumed either 500 ml of a low fat (0.1%) yogurt or a low fat yogurt mixed with a fat-free aroma extract of olive oil (0.025%, wt:wt). Resting CBF was measured at baseline, and 30 and 120 minutes post yogurt intake.  Blood was taken at baseline, 30, 60 90, 120 and 150 post meal and analysed for glucose and insulin concentrations. Frank et al state that they found an increase in frontal opercular CBF in the extract condition 30 mins and 120 mins post intake.   They report that the frontal operculum has been reported to be involved in visual-gustatory and interaction and odour taste integration.  Activity in this region in response to food stimuli has also been reported to positively correlate with BMI.  Previous research has indicated that different flavoured foods can affect hunger, food intake and satiety.  The scientists state that they did not find any differential effect of the low fat yogurt on the homeostatic system.  They conclude by stating that it may be possible to simulate fat-triggered sensations in the brain on the gustatory level possibly by ingredients the body implicitly associates with fat. 

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