Fat digestion and absorption in spice-pretreated rats

J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Feb;92(3):503-10. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4597. Epub 2011 Sep 14.


Background: A few common spices are known to stimulate secretion of bile with higher amount of bile acids which play a major role in digestion and absorption of dietary lipids. It would be appropriate to verify if these spices enable efficient digestion and absorption during high-fat intake. In this context, dietary ginger (0.05%), piperine (0.02%), capsaicin (0.015%), and curcumin (0.5%) were examined for their influence on bile secretion, digestive enzymes of pancreas and absorption of dietary fat in high-fat (30%) fed Wistar rats for 8 weeks.

Results: These spices enhanced the activity of pancreatic lipase, amylase, trypsin and chymotrypsin by 22-57%, 32-51%, 63-81% and 12-38%, respectively. Dietary intake of spices along with high-fat enhanced fat absorption. These dietary spices increased bile secretion with higher bile acid content. Stimulation of lipid mobilisation from adipose tissue was suggested by the decrease in perirenal adipose tissue weight by dietary capsaicin and piperine. This was also accompanied by prevention of the accumulation of triglyceride in liver and serum in high-fat fed rats. Activities of key lipogenic enzymes in liver were reduced which was accompanied by an increased activity of hormone-sensitive lipase.

Conclusion: Thus, dietary ginger and other spice compounds enhance fat digestion and absorption in high-fat fed situation through enhanced secretion of bile salts and a stimulation of the activity pancreatic lipase. At the same time, the energy expenditure is facilitated by these spices to prevent the accumulation of absorbed fat.

Keywords: dietary fat absorption; digestive enzymes; high-fat diet; lipogenic enzymes; spices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Alkaloids / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Benzodioxoles / administration & dosage
  • Bile / chemistry
  • Bile / metabolism*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / analysis
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Capsaicin / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Digestion*
  • Ginger* / chemistry
  • Hydrolases / chemistry
  • Hydrolases / metabolism
  • India
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Pancreas / enzymology
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Piperidines / administration & dosage
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / administration & dosage
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rhizome / chemistry
  • Spices* / analysis
  • Spices* / economics
  • Up-Regulation*


  • Alkaloids
  • Benzodioxoles
  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Dietary Fats
  • Piperidines
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Hydrolases
  • Curcumin
  • Capsaicin
  • piperine