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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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People often turn to low-fat foods in the hope of loosing weight, but it’s a controversial area. It’s true that by avoiding fat you are eating fewer calories. On the other hand, many people still feel hungry after a low-fat meal, so they simply eat more – which clearly defeats the object. Work groups at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the University of Vienna are researching how oils and fats regulate feelings of hunger.

Oils and fats deceive perception of satiety

The scientists are looking at four fats/oils: lard, milk fat, rapeseed oil and olive oil. Every day for three months 120 participants ate – in addition to their normal diet – 500 g low-fat yoghurt which was enriched with one of the four fats. The researchers found that olive oil produced the greatest feeling of satiety. Tests showed that these people had higher levels of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood. They also assessed the yoghurt+ olive oil they were given as “very satisfying”. In this group, the amount of body fat and the subjects’ weight remained constant over the three months.

This is a surprising result, because the fatty acids in rapeseed and olive oil are very similar. Trying to identify a difference, researchers carried out another experiment this time looking at the aromas in olive oil. In this study, one group of participants ate yoghurt with olive oil aroma extracts, the control group ate plain yoghurt. The result: the olive oil aroma group kept their calorie intake steady, while the control group tended to eat more showing up with an average plus of 176 kcal per day. Blood tests also showed lower serotonin levels in the control group’s blood.

Flavours regulate satiety

One possible explanation for the olive oil group’s eating less is that they felt satiated more quickly. How long this feeling lasts after a meal depends on a number of factors, but especially on the blood sugar level. The faster this drops, that is the faster the cells in the body take up sugar from the blood, the sooner one feels hungry again.

The next step in the research was to investigate which aroma substances in olive oil are most effective in delaying uptake of blood sugar by cells. The researchers used olive oils from Spain, Greece, Italy and Australia. They identified two constituents which reduce the take-up of glucose from the blood by the liver. These were hexanal and E2-hexanal. The Italian olive oil was found to have the highest concentrations of these two flavouring agents. The researchers were able to prove that flavouring agents can regulate satiety.

Source: Dr. Jörg Häseler, www.aid.de