Excessive accumulation of fat as the result of more energy intake and less energy expenditure is known as obesity. Lipids are essential components in the human body and are vital for maintaining homeostasis and physiological as well as cellular metabolism. Fatty acid synthesis and catabolism (by fatty acid oxidation) are normal part of basic fuel metabolism in animals. Fatty acids are degraded in the mitochondria by a biochemical process called β-oxidation in which two-carbon fragments are produced in each cycle. The increase in fatty acid β-oxidation is negatively correlated with body mass index. Although healthy life style, avoiding Western diet, dieting and strenuous exercise are the commonly used methods to lose weight, they are not considered a permanent solution in addition to risk attenuation of basal metabolic rate (BMR). Pharmacotherapy offers benefits of weight loss by altering the satiety and lowering absorption of fat from the food; however, its side effects may outweigh the benefits of weight loss. Alternatively, dietary phytochemicals and natural health products offer great potential as an efficient weight loss strategy by modulating lipid metabolism and/or increasing BMR and thermogenesis. Specifically, polyphenols such as citrus flavonoids, green tea epigallocatechin gallate, resveratrol, capsaicin and curcumin, have been reported to increase lipolysis and induce fatty acid β-oxidation through modulation of hormone sensitive lipase, acetyl-coA carboxylase, carnitine acyl transferase and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1. In this review article, we discuss selected phytochemicals in relation to their integrated functionalities and specific mechanisms for weight loss.
Keywords: Beta-oxidation; Epigenetics; Lipid metabolism; Obesity; Phytochemicals; Weight loss.
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