British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

Pomegranate seed oil consumption during a period of high-fat feeding reduces weight gain and reduces type 2 diabetes risk in CD-1 mice

Brian K. McFarlina1a2 c1, Kelley A. Strohackera1 and Michael L. Kuehta1

a1 Laboratory of Integrated Physiology, Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, 3855 Holman Street, 104U Garrison, Houston, TX 77204-6015, USA

a2 Texas Obesity Research Center, University of Houston, 110 Garrison, Houston, TX 77204, USA


The health benefits of pomegranate consumption have recently received considerable scientific focus, with most studies examining fruit and/or juice consumption. Pomegranate seed oil (POMo) is a rich source of 9-cis, 11-trans conjugate linolenic acid (CLA), which may offset the side-effects associated with weight gain. Male, wild-type CD-1 mice were divided into one of three groups (twenty per group): high-fat (HF), HF+seed oil (HF+POMo) or lean control (LN). In HF and HF+POMo, mice were provided access ad libitum to a high-fat chow (60 % of energy from fat). HF+POMo was supplemented with 61·79 mg POMo/d. LN consumed a restricted low-fat (10 % of energy from fat) chow to maintain body weight within 5 % of initial weight. Plasma was analysed for biomarkers associated with cholesterol profile (total cholesterol, HDL and TAG), glucose sensitivity (glucose and insulin), adipose tissue accumulation (leptin and adiponectin) and systemic low-grade inflammation (C-reactive protein and haptoglobin). The key findings of this study were that weight gain was associated with an increase in biomarkers of cholesterol profile, glucose sensitivity, adipose tissue accumulation and systemic low-grade inflammation (P < 0·05). POMo only altered body weight accumulation, final body weight, leptin, adiponectin and insulin (P < 0·05). We found that despite a similar level of energy intake, HF mice had a greater concentration of leptin and a lower concentration of adiponectin compared to HF+POMo mice. POMo intake was associated with an improvement in insulin sensitivity, suggesting that risk of developing type 2 diabetes may have been reduced; however, CVD risk did not change.

(Received July 09 2008)

(Revised October 09 2008)

(Accepted October 10 2008)

(Online publication December 16 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Brian K. McFarlin, fax +1 713 743 9929, email


Abbreviations: CLA, conjugate linolenic acid; HF, high-fat; LN, lean control; POMo, pomegranate seed oil