Lab mice fed a high-fat diet had larger liver cells with accumulation of lipid droplets compared to lab mice fed a standard diet. However, mice fed a high-fat diet that that were also given mate tea had liver cells more similar to those in the standard diet mice, as well as mice that were given the cholesterol lowering drug fenofibrate.
These results were published in the January 2019 edition of the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy.
Mate tea is made out of Ilex paraguariensis, a plant endemic to South America. It is a popular beverage in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, as well as some parts of Bolivia, Chile, and Brazil.
Studies on the plants’ bioactive compounds have linked it to anti-inflammatory properties, as well as some cardiovascular benefits. The plant is rich in polyphenols, xanthines, flavonoids, and minerals, which led the authors of this present study to explore its potential in reducing liver and metabolic disorders induced by high fat diets.
“This study [shows] that mate tea treatment prevents the development of hepatic steatosis by improving inflammation and oxidative stress parameters, acting on glucose uptake, and improving insulin and high-density lipoprotein levels,” they wrote.
It was funded by Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).
Study details and results
Researchers divided 32 mice into four groups, with eight mice in each. One group was fed a standard diet (control group), the second group was fed a high fat diet, the third group was fed a high fat diet and mate tea, and the fourth group was fed a high fat diet and received fenofibrate.
Mate tea was purchased from Leão Jr. SA, a producer of tea products founded in 1901 that has operated as a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Indústrias Ltda. since 2009 (the researchers did not report any financial backing from Coca-Cola).
During the trial period, researchers performed one4 glucose tolerance test on the animals. They analyzed the mice for 13 weeks, after which blood samples as well as liver, heart, and fats were removed and weighed.
“A significant weight gain was observed in the liver of animals that ingested the high-fat diet,” they reported. However, the researchers found that mice given mate tea and fenofibrate had less increase in visceral and subcutaneous fat compared to the mice only receiving a high fat diet with no supplement.
Additionally, they found that mice given mate tea exhibited improvements in parameters of oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood biomarkers.
Source: Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Published online ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2018.11.007
“Mate tea reduces high fat diet-induced liver and metabolic disorders in mice”
Authors: Marina Valente Barroso, et al.