Tea and Fatty Acids

February 25/Drug Week -- Fresh data on life sciences are presented in the report "Consumption of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) decreases the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids in mouse liver."

"Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is rich in polyphenolic compounds, which are thought to contribute to the health benefits of tea. Mate tea was administered orally to mice at a dose of 0.5, 1.0 or 2.0g/kg for 60 d, and changes both in serum lipid concentration and fatty acid composition of liver and kidney were examined," scientists in Braganca Paulista, Brazil report.

"The effects of mate tea on serum and tissue lipid peroxidation were assessed by the evaluation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS). In tea-consuming mice, both MUFA (18:1n-9) and PUFA (18:2n-6 and 20:4n-6) were increased (p <0.05) in the liver lipid (approximately 90 and 60%, respectively), whereas only MUFA (approximately 20%) were increased in the kidney lipid. The most altered PUFA class was n-6 PUFA, which increased by approximately 60-75 % (p <0.05). This difference in the fatty acid profile in the liver is reflected in the increased PUFA:SFA ratio. Consistent with these results, mice fed with mate tea had much lower TBARS in the liver. No differences (p >0.05) were found in the levels of serum cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and TAG under the conditions of the present study," wrote F. Martins and colleagues, University Sao Francisco.

The researchers concluded, "These results suggest that treatment with mate tea was able to protect unsaturated fatty acids from oxidation and may have selective protective effects within the body, especially on the liver."

Martins and colleagues published their study in British Journal of Nutrition ("Consumption of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) decreases the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids in mouse liver." British Journal of Nutrition, 2009;101(4):527-32).

For additional information, contact F. Martins, Universidade Sao Francisco, Laboratorio Multidisciplinar de Pesquisa, Av Sao Francisco de Assis 218, Braganca Paulista, SP, Brazil.

From the February 16, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition