Polyphenols: Planting the seeds of treatment for the metabolic syndrome

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Abstract

Greater understanding about the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome and potential causes suggests that plant polyphenols might be useful as a treatment. Dietary excess energy can be stored in adipocytes, leading to the release of proinflammatory cytokines and adipose-related hormones that cause vascular injury. Plant polyphenols, organic compounds found in numerous plant species and their fruits, are being actively studied as potential treatments for components of the metabolic syndrome. Individual polyphenols that have been examined include resveratrol, quercetin, epigallocathechin-3-gallate, and curcumin. Resveratrol lowers weight, blood pressure, glucose, and insulin resistance in rodents, and a human trial is currently underway. Quercetin decreases lipid and glucose levels in obese rats, and in a human investigation of subjects with the metabolic syndrome has lowered blood pressure without significant alteration of lipids. Epigallocathechin-3-gallate-induced weight loss has attenuated glucose levels and insulin resistance in rodents and improved hemoglobin A1c and lipid in human studies. Plant extracts also can be used. Grape seed and chokeberry extracts have decreased blood pressure and lipid levels in small human trials. Other human investigations have shown the beneficial effects of cocoa, coffee, carob, and Momordica charantia. Thus far, most studies have involved a small number of subjects and have been of short duration. Future studies should be designed to account for a disease process in which the pathogenic factors may take place for years before disease manifestations take place, the possibly limited bioavailability of polyphenols, and the potential need to provide combinations or modifications of polyphenols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-623
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

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Keywords

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Polyphenol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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