Obesity, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher, is classified as a medical condition and associated with a wide array of health consequences, including high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or infertility.1,2 With almost 94 million adult Americans considered obese, the need for safe and effective ways to help people lose weight and reduce obesity's burden on their health is of the essence.3
While many of sunflower's medicinal properties have been validated by science, including its effects on cardiovascular and bone health, the herb's benefits on reducing obesity haven't been extensively studied. Focusing on previous evidence that phenolic compounds (mainly chlorogenic acids, or CGAs) in sunflower have hypoglycemic and anti-diabetic effects, researchers in this particular study attempted to evaluate the effects of sunflower seed extract on weight and body composition of obese adults.
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted at the Clinical Trails Unit (CTU) in Txagorritxu-Araba University Hospital in Alava, Spain.
It involved 50 participants aged 18 to 65 whose BMI was between 30 and 40 kg/m2 and waist circumference greater than 102 cm for men and 88 cm for women. They were randomly assigned to receive two daily capsules containing either 250 mg/day of sunflower seed extract (with 40% CGAs) or a placebo maltodextrin extract of the same caloric content for 12 weeks.
A number of measurements (including weight, height, BMI, waist circumference, blood glucose, and lipids) were recorded before, during, and after the study.
The primary finding of the study is that a 12-week treatment with sunflower extract leads to a substantial decrease in body weight (by -6.90 kg), BMI (by -2.60), and waist circumference (by -8.44 cm) in comparison to the placebo group.
The effects were particularly noticeable in females older than 30 who, on average, lost 9.15 cm in waist circumference and 7.7% of their initial weight.
Additionally, researchers observed significant improvements in total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) as well as in blood sugar levels.
What Does this Mean?
These encouraging findings provide evidence that sunflower seed extract can be an effective herbal preparation to reduce cardiovascular and other obesity-related health risks by helping people lose weight in a safe and natural way.
A decrease in blood cholesterol levels indicates that sunflower seeds might have beneficial effects on lipid metabolism, thus providing additional protective benefits for obesity-stricken adults; however, more research is needed to further corroborate these findings.
- Nutrients, Helianthus annuus Seed Extract Affects Weight and Body Composition of Healthy Obese Adults during 12 Weeks of Consumption: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study, 2019
- CDC. (2017). Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved November 13, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html
- CDC. (2015). The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved November 13, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html
- CDC. (2018). Adult Obesity Facts. Retrieved November 13, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html