Fucoxanthin and Fat Loss
Fucoxanthin is a Xanthophyll pigment found in marine algae and brown seaweed. It's a strong antioxidant, and has been gaining a lot of attention in the last few years because it has shown promise as a thermogenic fat burner. A group of researchers in Korea recently tested both the antioxidant effects and fat burning potential of fucoxanthin by performing a study on rats. The animals were fed either a normal diet, a high fat diet, or a high fat diet supplemented with fucoxanthin.
The study showed that rats fed fucoxanthin with their high fat diets ate less and gained less weight, and that their bodies not only had greater antioxidant activity, but that the body was producing more of its own antioxidant chemicals. High fat diets are associated with high amounts of damaging free radicals, so the inclusion on an antioxidant could be beneficial. This may be interesting news for health conscious people following diets which can potentially be high in fat, like Atkins or Paleo.
Could fucoxanthin be the weight loss miracle many have been praying for? It's really too early to tell. Although the rats lost weight, the amount lost in this experiment was not significant enough for the scientists to draw conclusions.
Studies on rats are really important – they allow researchers to form better ideas on what may work in humans, but they are no replacement for a full human study. Fucoxanthin certainly looks like it has advantages, but the research on this intriguing marine chemical is still in it early days. However, seaweed and algae are excellent and delicious low calorie source of many essential minerals including calcium, iodine and magnesium.
Ha AW, Na SJ, Kim WK. Antioxidant effects of fucoxanthin rich powder in rats fed with high fat diet. Nutr Res Pract. 2013 Dec;7(6):475-80.