“Considering the findings, mate tea and caffeine can be considered anti-obesity agents.
The results of this research could be scaled to humans to understand the roles of mate tea and caffeine as potential strategies to prevent overweight and obesity, as well as the subsequent metabolic disorders associated with these conditions.
The consumption of caffeine from mate or from other sources alleviated the negative impact of a high-fat, high [sugar] diet on body composition due to the modulation of certain enzymes in both [fat] tissue and the liver.”
The team of researchers gave the rats mate tea, which is an herbal hot drink popular in Latin America and packed with phytochemicals, flavonoids, and amino acids. This contains about 65 to 130mg of caffeine per serving, compared to between 30 and 300mg (average 95mg) in a cup of brewed coffee, the researchers said.
The animals were also given synthetic caffeine and caffeine extracted from coffee to compare the effects. They found that, regardless of its source, caffeine decreased the accumulation of lipids (fat molecules) in fat cells by between 20 and 41 percent. At the end of the experiment, the team said the amount of body fat on the rats, which consumed caffeine, and those that did not was ‘significantly’ different.
The team explained this effect was probably caused by the effects caffeine had on two genes in particular – Fasn, the fatty acid synthase gene, which was about 31-39 percent less active in the rats which were being fed caffeine, meaning the body was converting less sugar into fat and Lpl, the lipoprotein lipase gene, which was around 51-69 percent less active, which also reduced the amount of fat which was created.
The suppression of these genes also meant less cholesterol was produced in the liver, the study added. Meanwhile, a research by the National Cancer Institute in the United States had last year found people who drink six or seven cups of coffee each day to be 16 percent less likely to die from disease within a 10-year period than those who did not.