Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fed rats a high-fat, high-sugar diet to test what caffeine can do.
They then gave some of the rodents caffeine extracted from mate tea and others decaffeinated mate tea.
The rats that consumed the caffeinated extract gained 16% less weight.
While, 22% less body fat gained by those who consumed decaffeinated mate.
The anti-obesity effects were similar among rats that consumed synthetic caffeine or its extraction from coffee.
By studying the rats’ cells, the scientists found that caffeine exerts some of its effects by altering the expression of certain genes.
They report their results in a recent Journal of Functional Foods study paper.
Prof. Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia after considering the findings said, “Mate tea can be considered anti-obesity agents.”
Caffeine reduced body fat accumulation
The researchers’ team fed six groups of rats a high-fat, high-sugar diet for 28 days.
In addition, they supplemented the diet of five of the groups with one of the following:
Synthetic caffeine, mate tea containing, caffeine extracted from mate tea, from coffee, and decaffeinated mate tea.
The amount of caffeine it equivalent to the amount that humans ingest from drinking 4 cups of coffee per day.
After 28 days, there was a marked difference in lean body mass among the six groups of rats.
The rats that had consumed caffeine from any source had gained less body fat than their counterparts in the non-caffeinated group.
There was a close link between the storage of lipids in fat cells, the gain in body weight, and the increase in body fat.
The findings add to increasing knowledge about the potential for mate tea to help combat obesity.
This is in addition to other health benefits conferred by the vitamins, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds in the herbal tea.
The drink has become a popular alternative to black tea and coffee because of its reputation as protective against obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions.