“We study bioactive compounds from a variety of products and look for benefits to prevent chronic diseases,” says Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia from the University of Illinois.
The husk of coffee beans (cocoa shell) is of particular interest in this regard. Firstly, it has been shown to be non-toxic. Secondly, its phenolic compounds have a very high antioxidant ability and are able to fight obesity and diabetes.
Researchers have studied the effects of bioactive cocoa shell compounds on two types of cells: macrophages (immune response cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). In the laboratory, fat and immune cells were cultured together to recreate the “real” interaction between them.
“We evaluated two extracts and five pure phenolic compounds and noted that these substances, mainly protocatechuic and gallic acid from the husks of coffee beans, are able to block the accumulation of fat in adipocytes by stimulating lipolysis (breaking down fats) and also generating“ brown fat ” , – explains co-author of the study, Miguel Rebollo-Hernanz.
It’s all about macrophages present in adipose tissue. When adipose tissue grows (with obesity), macrophages are activated, which causes inflammation and oxidative stress. As a result, mitochondria of adipose tissue die and the process of burning fat slows down – a vicious circle arises.
But protocatechuic and gallic acid suppress the effect of macrophages on fat cells and thereby break the vicious loop, reducing the secretion of inflammatory factors and restoring normal fat burning.
Moreover, it was shown that when exposed to these compounds, glucose sensitivity increases. This means potential benefits for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Researchers emphasize that the use of by-products of coffee production will have a good impact on the environment, since the husks remaining after roasting coffee beans are usually discarded and get moldy.
According to the researchers, phenolic compounds extracted from the shell of cocoa beans can be added to foods or drinks to increase the nutritional value of foods.