“The present research focused on the effects of macauba pulp oil since there is evidence that oleic acid, carotenoid and tocopherol present in this oil would trigger anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity and antioxidant effects,” the team of researchers from the Federal University of Viçosa, Federal University of Espírito Santo and Cornell University wrote.
The study was supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and used macauba fruits harvested in Araponga, Minas Gerais (Brazil).
Macauba as alternative
The study presents the fruit oil of the Macauba Palm (Acrocomia aculeata), also known as macaw palm, as a promising alternative to vegetable oil for biofuel and as ingredient in the cosmetic and food industries.
“Dietary fatty acid composition demonstrates a significant impact on disease development,” the researchers wrote. “Thus, nutritional strategies that aim to treat or prevent these metabolic alterations are of great importance.”
Grown ubiquitously across Brazil and in other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the fruit of the macauba produces a pulp oil rich in bioactive compounds, which the researchers hypothesized would prevent adipogenesis and inflammation in mice.
“Oleic acid has been shown to reduce the expression of transcription factors related to the adipogenesis signaling pathway, such as PPAR-γ, and reduce oxidative stress markers,” they wrote. “Moreover, macauba pulp oil has a high content of carotenoids, which can act to reduce inflammation through NF-κB modulation. Additionally, this oil contains tocopherol, which is an important antioxidant that has been shown to improve inflammation and oxidative stress.”
The study randomly assigned 30 eight-week-old C57BI/6 mice to three test groups: a control diet (CD), high-fat diet (HFD) and high-fat diet with macauba pulp oil (HFM). After the eight-week test period, the mice were euthanized to extract serum, liver and adipose tissues for analysis.
“Consumption of macauba pulp oil increases antioxidant capacity and prevents oxidative stress, inflammation and the adipogenesis pathway,” the researchers concluded. “Therefore, macauba pulp oil has a great potential for inclusion in human foods to improve health, assisting in the prevention of risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases.”
Findings showed a high positive correlation between total tocopherol, oleic acid and carotenoid intakes and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, an enzyme that combats reactive oxygen species-mediated diseases. In addition, the oleic acid inhibited transcription factors associated with inflammation and increased adiponectin, a protein suggested to play a role in mediating the metabolic effects of obesity.
“Although macauba pulp oil prevented the adipogenesis pathway and inflammation in the adipose tissue, significant effects in the hepatic markers were not observed after eight weeks of the high-fat diet,” the researchers added. “The current study was carried out as a prevention model, and for this reason, it might not be able to verify alterations in the liver.”
The study, which the researchers indicated was the first of its kind, called for further trials “to verify the real effects of macauba pulp oil in humans”.
Macauba (Acrocomia aculeata) Pulp Oil Prevents Adipogenesis, Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet
Authors: Cíntia Tomaz Sant’ Ana et al.