Saturday, March 18, 2017

May I Salt & Roast My Nuts? Plus: If Catechins Boost One's Energy Expenditure by 400% Why Don't They Work for Me?

One article, two questions, two science-based answers.
If you're like me I bet that you've been asking yourself previously, whether the cheap roasted nuts at the supermarket have the same health benefits as the expensive "raw" nuts from the health-food store... guess what: a recent study by scientists from the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences and the University of Otago confirms: "Dry roasting and lightly salting nuts do[es] not appear to negate the cardioprotective effects observed with raw nut consumption, and both forms of nuts are resistant to [dietary] monotony" and thus similarly recommendable health-foods.

Along with the latest "green tea for thermogenesis"-study, which finally answers the important question "If Catechins Boost One's Energy Expenditure by 400% Why Don't They Work for Me?", the Chinese-New-Zealand co-production is one of the two studies in today's SuppVersity article.
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  • You can roast and salt your nuts (all puns intended) and still see health benefits (Tey 2016): Unless you're like the average seventh-grader and misunderstand the previous statement, roasted and salted nuts display no health risk whatsoever.

    In fact, Siew Ling Tey and colleagues were recently able to show in a randomized crossover study with 72 perfectly healthy participants, who were asked to consume 30 g/day of either raw or dry roasted, lightly salted hazelnuts for 28 days, each that the CVD risk factors the scientists assessed still improved significantly (sign. changes in body composition were not recorded - just for the record: body fat declined by 100-200g, muscle mass increased by ca. 100g).
    Figure 1: Changes in biochemical parameters in the two groups; only the change in triglycerides (trigs) showed a probably random, yet statistically significant inter-group difference (in favor of the roasted nuts | Tey 2016)
    Furthermore, neither the "raw" nor the "roasted nut"-group saw a decline in their "desire to consume" and "overall liking" of the hazelnuts, which constitute, due to their relatively high omega-6 and extremely high PUFA content, an excellent study object for the potentially negative effects of roasting (one would expect a potential oxidation of PUFAs and downstream ill health effects). Moreover, studies "examining the health effects of consuming hazelnuts are", as the authors point out "relatively sparse despite the fact that hazelnuts are the second most common nut produced worldwide" (Tey 2016).

    One downside of roasted nuts I do not want to withhold, though, is the slight decrease in alpha-tocopherol during the roasting process, of which the results of the study do, however, indicate that it had no health-relevant consequences.
  • Human study confirms: Green tea + caffeine set your brown fat on fire... assuming that you do have functional brown fat (Yoneshiro 2017) -- In rodents, it's not news that the combination of catechins and caffeine will promote brown adipose tissue thermogenesis. In humans, however, the effect has rarely been observed directly and is, as Yoneshiro et al. point out, "poorly understood".

    Reason enough for the Japanese scientists to recruit 15 healthy male volunteers, subject them to fluorodeoxyglucosepositron emission tomography and thus assess their BAT activity before and after a single oral ingestion of a beverage containing 615 mg catechin and 77 mg caffeine, as well as after the chronic ingestion of the same beverage 2 times/d for 5 wk in 10 of the subjects.
    Figure 2: (A) Study protocol of the acute trial. (B) Study protocol chronic trial. Both of the trials were single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, season-matched crossover studies (Yoneshiro 2017).
    To complicate, ah... I mean to make the study more comprehensive the scientists also evaluated the cold-induced thermogenesis (CIT) after 2 h of "cold" exposure at cozy 19°C. Both the acute and chronic trials were single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, season-matched crossover studies.
    Figure 3: Change in energy expenditure (adj. for FFM) after the ingestion of the test beverages (left). Thermogenic effects of the catechin or placebo beverage expressed as iAUC of EE (right | Yoneshiro 2017).
    What the authors found was in line with the observations in rodent studies - the effect size, however, was, as it was to be expected, magnitudes smaller; and, more importantly, occurred only in those subjects who were blessed with highly active brown fat depots:
    • A single ingestion of the catechin beverage increased EE in 9 subjects who had metabolically active BAT (mean ± SEM: +15.24 6 1.48 kcal, P < 0.01) but not in 6 subjects who had negligible activities (mean ± SEM: +3.42 6 2.68 kcal).
    • The ingestion of a placebo beverage containing 82 mg caffeine produced a smaller and comparative EE response in the 2 subject groups.
    The scientists multivariate regression analysis revealed a significant interaction between BAT and catechin on EE (b = 0.496, P = 0.003). In other words: The acute effects on your energy expenditure depend on the presence and activity of brown fat cells (see Figure 4).
    Figure 4: (A) Representative FDG-PET/CT images of the high- and low-BAT subjects. (B) Quantitative BAT activity as the SUV of the high- (n = 9) and low-BAT (n = 6) subjects (Yoneshiro 2017).
    Unfortunately, these fat cells which are already scarce in normal-weight human beings are quasi-non-existent (or dysfunctional, that's not 100% clear) in those people who'd need the fat-burning effects of green tea the most: the obese.

    Accordingly, it is important to point out that the beneficial effects of chronic GTE + caffeine intake on the thermogenic response to "cold" (19°C) exposure in the 10 normal-weight Japanese subjects may (and I would dare say that it "will") turn out poorly in the average obese individual.
This FDG-PET image shows where the average (lean) human has active BAT stores (van der Lans 2014).
So what's the verdict? While it is nice to know that roasting and (lightly) salting doesn't turn a health-food like nuts to poisonous trash, I guess that Yoneshiro's study sends the more important message to the fitness community. After all, they finally demonstrated that the answer to the question why green tea extracts don't work for you could be as simple as this: "That's because you don't have the brown fat that's responsive to the effects of the catechins."

That's huge because it shows that (a) the usefulness of green tea catechin supplements depends on the individuals and that (b) those who need "fat burners" the most, i.e. those who are still obese or struggling with their weight, are least likely to benefit from it.

After all, previous studies clearly indicate that the majority of morbidly obese (and older | Sacks 2013) subjects have virtually no brown fat/adipose tissue (Vijgen 2011 | or if they have it, it doesn't respond even to treatment w/ cold, insulin or ephedrine | Orava 2013; Carey 2013). In conjunction with the observation that there's a clear correlation between having active brown fat and having no weight problems (ibid.), as well as the realization that the activity of brown fat in the obese only increases after weight loss (Vijgen 2012), it is thus not surprising that many catechin users are disappointed | Comment on Facebook!
References:
  • Carey, Andrew L., et al. "Ephedrine activates brown adipose tissue in lean but not obese humans." Diabetologia 56.1 (2013): 147-155.
  • van der Lans, Anouk AJJ, et al. "Cold-activated brown adipose tissue in human adults: methodological issues." American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 307.2 (2014): R103-R113.
  • Orava, Janne, et al. "Blunted metabolic responses to cold and insulin stimulation in brown adipose tissue of obese humans." Obesity 21.11 (2013): 2279-2287.
  • Sacks, Harold, and Michael E. Symonds. "Anatomical Locations of Human Brown Adipose Tissue." Diabetes 62.6 (2013): 1783-1790.
  • Tey, Siew Ling, et al. "Do dry roasting, lightly salting nuts affect their cardioprotective properties and acceptability?." European journal of nutrition (2016): 1-12.
  • Vijgen, Guy HEJ, et al. "Brown adipose tissue in morbidly obese subjects." PloS one 6.2 (2011): e17247.
  • Vosselman, Maarten J., Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt, and Patrick Schrauwen. "Energy dissipation in brown adipose tissue: from mice to men." Molecular and cellular endocrinology 379.1 (2013): 43-50.
  • Yoneshiro, Takeshi, et al. "Tea catechin and caffeine activate brown adipose tissue and increase cold-induced thermogenic capacity in humans." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017): ajcn144972.