Sweet potato and weight loss: Food firms urged to exploit 'new business opportunities'

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Supplementation of 30% purple sweet potato or sweet potato for 12 weeks reduced body weight by 18%. ©iStock
Supplementation of 30% purple sweet potato or sweet potato for 12 weeks reduced body weight by 18%. ©iStock

Related tags Nutrition Obesity

Sweet potato supplementation significantly reduced obesity caused by a high-fat diet and also had beneficial effects on liver and kidney functions, a new China study showed.

Academics from Beijing Vocational College of Agriculture noted that purple sweet potato and sweet potato had become a hot topic in research due to their high nutritional value and abundance of bioactive molecules such as anthocyanins.

In this study, researchers turned their attention to the effect of the potatoes on obesity induced in mice by a high fat diet.

In the study, a control group was fed a low-fat diet while the rest were fed with high fat diet until the weight difference was over 20% at around week eight.

The high fat diet mice were then split into five groups, a negative control (fed a 60% high-fat diet), and then four groups fed a high-fat diet with either purple sweet potato or sweet potato supplementation at 15 and 30%.

The mice were fed with the respective diets for additional 12 weeks. Body weights and food intake were recorded weekly and the clinical behaviour was observed daily.

The animals on a high-fat diet which received 30% purple sweet potato or sweet potato for 12 weeks had reduced body weight by 18% compared with that of the purely high-fat diet group.

“However, the body weight loss was not significant in 15% purple sweet potato and 15% sweet potato treated animals,”​ the researchers stated in the Journal of Food Science.

White adipose tissue weight was also significantly reduced in 30%-treated obese mice, whereas the brown adipose tissue mass was unaffected. 

They also found the 30% sweet potato group had reduced fat mass, while both groups displayed increased energy expenditure.

Purple sweet potato also improved the lipid profile in mice.

Reduced cholesterol

Both purple sweet potato and sweet potato improved the high-fat diet induced hypertriglyceridemia and increased the high-density lipoprotein.

“The supplement of 30% of purple sweet potato and 15% of sweet potato reduced the cholesterol in high-fat diet mice significantly,” ​they added.

“Moreover, both had the tendency to decrease the triglycerides in HFD mice, but did not reach a significant difference. However, the low-density lipoprotein level was higher in both treatment groups than that of high-fat diet group.”

The study concluded that these results indicated that both purple sweet potato and sweet potato have anti-obesity effects and are effective in reducing metabolic risk.

“This preliminary study shows that purple potato can inhibit the weight gain in mice, which will bring to obese patients a way to lose weight. And at the same time, manufacturers can produce a series of products by using purple sweet potato to expand business opportunities,”​ they added.

Source:Journal of Food Science

DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.13617

“Purple Sweet Potato Attenuate Weight Gain in High Fat Diet Induced Obese Mice”

Authors: Ronghui Ju, et al. 

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