You may have heard of rutin as a compound that protects blood vessels, but according to South Korean researchers the same stuff may offer protection against obesity. A half-gram daily would be enough to reduce the impact of overindulging in calories.
Half a gram of rutin a day can fight fat The structural formula of rutin is shown below. The molecule consists of a quercetin and a rutinoside part, which is why rutin is also known as quercetin-3-rutinoside. Rutin is found in large quantities in foods such as apples, onions, tea, citrus fruits, berries and rhubarb. So healthy foods are full to bursting with rutin. If you eat healthily and are not a coffee junkie, rutin is probably the most prevalent phenol in your diet.
The researchers divided lab rats into three groups. One group was given standard food [Control, NOR], a second group was given food containing extra fat – and therefore also more calories [High fat diet, HFD] and a third group were given a high-fat diet with rutin added to it [HFD + Rutin]. The experiment lasted 12 weeks.
The human equivalent of this dose of rutin, for a person weighing 85 kg, would be about 425 mg per day. This is an acceptable dose: you’ll find cheap supplements containing 0.5 or 1 g rutin in any supplements store.
At the end of the 12 weeks, the rats that had been given high-fat food were heavier than the rats in the control group. The rats that had been fattened on the high-fat diet to which rutin had been added were also heavier than the rats in the control group. But as the figure below shows, rutin supplementation halved the weight increase that happened to the rats on the high-fat only diet.
Rutin improved the rats’ cholesterol balance and lowered the concentration of triglycerides in their blood. That would mean that rutin offers cardiovascular protection.
The Koreans found less mitochondrial DNA in the muscle cells of the rats that had been given high-fat food than in the muscle cells of the control group rats. The excessive amounts of calories led to a decrease in the number of mitochondria. The rutin supplementation negated that effect almost completely, as is shown on the left below. Click on the figures for a larger version.
The calorie-rich diet also led to a decrease in the concentration of the enzyme AMPK. AMPK stimulates insulin sensitivity and the conversion of fat into energy in cells. It can also stimulate cells to start manufacturing more mitochondria. AMPK does this together with key molecules, such as SIRT1, Tfam and PGC-1-alpha. And as you can see, supplementation with rutin activated all these molecules.
“Our study demonstrated that rutin supplementation decreases high-fat diet-induced weight gain and adipose tissue mass, accompanied by increased mitochondrial DNA and mitochondrial gene expression involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and function and AMPK activation in skeletal muscle”, the Koreans summarised. “These results suggested that the anti-obesity property of rutin may possibly be associated with rutin-mediated muscle mitochondrial changes.”
“Further studies are warranted to delineate more precise mechanisms by which rutin affects muscle fibers, mitochondrial biogenesis, oxidative capacity and function, and its associated health outcomes.”
Rutin Increases Muscle Mitochondrial Biogenesis with AMPK Activation in High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese Rats
Decreased mitochondrial number and dysfunction in skeletal muscle are associated with obesity and the progression of obesity-associated metabolic disorders. The specific aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of rutin on mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle of high-fat diet-induced obese rats. Supplementation with rutin reduced body weight and adipose tissue mass, despite equivalent energy intake (p < 0.05). Rutin significantly increased mitochondrial size and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content as well as gene expression related to mitochondrial biogenesis, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ? coactivator-1? (PGC-1?), nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1), transcription factor A (Tfam), and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent deacetylase, sirtulin1 (SIRT1) in skeletal muscle (p < 0.05). Moreover, rutin consumption increased muscle adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity by 40% (p < 0.05). Taken together, these results suggested at least partial involvement of muscle mitochondria and AMPK activation in the rutin-mediated beneficial effect on obesity.