UC Irvine research might lead to drug that limits or enhances appetite.
A fatty acid found in olive oil wards off hunger pangs according to a new study. UC Irvine professor Daniele Piomelli and his colleagues found that by infusing oleic acid into the intestines of rodents it was converted into a fat messenger called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) that tells the brain the body is full.
"This is different than compounds that make you eat less at a given meal," says Piomelli, professor of pharmacology. To further test the mechanism, they injected the fat into altered mice so they couldn't make OEA. "When you infuse the fat into these mice, they don't get the decreased hunger, " according to Piomelli.
The findings might one day lead to a drug that would slow OEA from being broken down in the body, thus extending the feeling of fullness.
But practically speaking eating extra olive oil isn't a route to curbing hunger says Roger Clemens spokesman for Institute of Food Technologists in MedicineNet. While considered a heart-healthy fat, it contains calories that can add up quickly.
The findings are published in the October issue of Cell Metabolism.