Rats that ate a diet supplemented with oil extracted from the seeds of the Sterculia foetida tree not only lost belly fat but exhibited a decreased chance of developing diabetes, according to researchers at the University of Missouri.
The team of scientists believes that the healthy fatty acids found in the sterculic oil were responsible for the benefits as they appear to prevent insulin resistance, and may lead to less abdominal fat in addition to promoting normal blood sugar levels.
"This research paves the way for potential use in humans," said lead author James Perfield. "Reducing belly fat is a key to reducing the incidence of serious disease, and this oil could have a future as a nutritional supplement."
For the purposes of this study, researchers administered amounts of sterculic oil that would be equivalent to a 250-pound individual taking a 3-gram dose.
They noted that while the oil shares many characteristics with fats that people already consume regularly, further testing is needed to examine its effects on humans before it can be considered a safe supplement.