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New study highlights how processing affects fat absorption from plant-based foods

Copyright: Neska/Flickr/CC 2.0
News from: Quadram Institute

Preserving the natural structure of plant-based food during processing can limit the amount of fat and energy absorbed by the body, a new study in the Journal of Functional Foods reports.

During this innovative multi-centred study researchers from the Quadram Institute, King’s College London, the University of Surrey and the University of Messina showed that preserving the natural structure of plant based foods can limit how quickly fats are exposed to digestive enzymes in the stomach helping to regulate the amount of fat absorbed by the body.

Focusing on almonds, which contain 50% fat, researchers investigated the effects different processing methods had on how almonds are ingested by the body.  

Despite being a high fat food, it has been shown previously that eating whole almonds doesn’t result in weight gain. Investigating why this might be, the researchers provided a study participant with two almond muffins, one made with almond chunks (2 mm) and one made with almond flour, which has much smaller particles (at less than half a millimetre).

The muffins were chewed as normal but instead of swallowing were put into an instrument known as the Dynamic Gastric Model, which accurately mimics the physical and chemical conditions of the human stomach and small bowel, enabling the researchers to calculate how much fat had been released.

After 60 minutes in the model stomach, which is the time calculated for this meal to pass through in humans, over 40% of the total fat content had been released from the muffins made with almond flour, but just under 6% had been released from the muffins made with larger almond chunks. Samples taken from the simulated small bowel showed that after 9 hours of digestion, almost all (97%) of the fat from the muffin made with flour was released, and only 60% of fat in the muffin made with almond chunks was released.

These findings were supported by results from a human study with a volunteer who had an ileostomy operation, allowing a direct comparison with the model.

The researchers concluded that maintaining the structural integrity of the tough cell walls, which form dietary fibre, surrounding the fat-rich cells in almonds was the main factor in determining the digestibility of fats.

Dr Cathrina Edwards from the Quadram Institute said: “What we have found is that if the natural plant structure is maintained the level of fat the body absorbs is greatly reduced, helping in weight management and potentially helping to reduce incidences of cardiovascular disease.”

The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. The Almond Board of California supplied the almonds.

ENDS

The paper: In vitro and in vivo modeling of lipid bioaccessibility and digestion from almond muffins: The importance of the cell-wall barrier mechanism Terri Grassby, Giuseppina Mandalari, Myriam M.-L. Grundy, Cathrina H. Edwards, Carlo Bisignano, Domenico Trombetta, Antonella Smeriglio, Simona Chessa, Shuvra Ray, Jeremy Sanderson, Sarah E. Berry, Peter R. Ellis, Keith W. Waldron Journal of Functional Foods Volume 37, October 2017, Pages 263–271 doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2017.07.046

About the Quadram Institute

The Quadram Institute will be at the forefront of a new interface between food science, gut biology and health, developing solutions to worldwide challenges in food-related disease and human health.  It will bring together research teams from the Institute of Food Research, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) and the University of East Anglia, as well as NNUH’s regional gastrointestinal endoscopy unit.

As a first step to realising the ambition of the Quadram Institute, the Institute of Food Research (IFR) realigned its science strategy to deliver to the vision of the new Institute. In preparation for the full opening of the Quadram Institute in mid-2018, IFR transitioned into Quadram Institute Bioscience on April 28th 2017. The new institute is being funded by the partners and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

About the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s top higher education institutions and was recognised as the University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. With 125 years of academic heritage since our founding in Battersea, and 50 years of world-class teaching and research in Guildford, the University of Surrey is the intellectual home for more than 15,200 students, 100,000 alumni and 2,800 staff. 

Freedom of thought, pursuit of academic excellence, and the advancement and application of knowledge underpin the wonderful things happening here. Our mission is to transform lives and enrich society through outstanding teaching and learning, pioneering research and impactful innovation.

The University of Surrey has been recognised by three Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Further and Higher Education and is a destination of choice for higher learning in subjects ranging from Engineering to the Arts. As a global university, we are proud of our strong partnerships with internationally leading institutions and businesses, while being firmly engaged with our local community in Guildford and Surrey. We are committed to educating the next generation of professionals and leaders, and to providing thought leadership and innovation to address global challenges and contribute to a better tomorrow for the world.

About King’s College London

King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2016/17 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 29,600 students (of whom nearly 11,700 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,000 staff.

King's has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 84% of research at King’s was deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (3* and 4*).

Since our foundation, King’s students and staff have dedicated themselves in the service of society. King’s will continue to focus on world-leading education, research and service, and will have an increasingly proactive role to play in a more interconnected, complex world. Visit our website to find out more about Vision 2029, King’s strategic vision for the next 12 years to 2029, which will be the 200th anniversary of the founding of the university. For further information about King's, please visit the King's in Brief webpages.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


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Tags: food research food security digestion human health nutrition press release