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Characterization of the lipotropic potential of plant-based foods
Abstract: Lipotropes are food components that limit excessive hepatic triglyceride contents or steatosis. Hepatic steatosis is often associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and may lead to more serious pathologies such as steatohepatitis, hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis, or cancer. Yet, whereas hepatic steatosis concerns several millions people worldwide, the lipotropic potential of foods has never been studied; and lipotrope-rich foods remain quite unknown. The objective of this work has been to characterize and quantify the lipotropic potential of plant-based foods from lipotrope contents found in literature and nutritional tables. Thus, 132 plant-based foods and 8 lipotropes (betaine, choline, myo-inositol, methionine, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates and magnesium) could have been selected. Main results showed that vegetables are the best source of lipotropes on a 100 kcal-basis and that plant-based foods are a more diversified source - but complementary - of lipotropes compared to animal-based products. We then expressed the lipotropic potential into a new index, the Lipotropic Capacity (LC) that integrates the sum of the 8 lipotropic densities relative to a reference food. Technological processes reduce plant-based foods lipotropic potential by around 20%: while refining is the most drastic treatment, fermentations have little effect, and may even tend to increase lipotrope densities. Then, by comparing lipotrope consumption via both French standard diet (INCA 2 survey) and Food guide pyramid, we evaluated that our consumption in betaine, choline and myo-inositol may be increased: this can be easily reached by choosing lipotrope-dense foods like beetroot, spinash or coffee. On a one euro-basis, grains products (i.e. cereals, and leguminous and oleaginous seeds) are the best compromise between a high LC and a cheap supply in lipotropes. However, it remains indispensable to carry out studies in humans to relate LC and prevalence of hepatic steatosis.
Keywords: Lipotropes ; Plant-based foods ; Lipotropic capacity ; Technological processes ; Consumption