British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and increases whole-body energy expenditure in men

Jun Sugitaa1a2, Takeshi Yoneshiroa3, Takuya Hatanoa1, Sayuri Aitaa1, Takeshi Ikemotoa2, Hideyo Uchiwaa2, Toshihiko Iwanagaa3, Toshimitsu Kameyaa4, Yuko Kawaia4 and Masayuki Saitoa1 c1

a1 Department of Nutrition, School of Nursing and Nutrition, Tenshi Collage, Kita-13, Higashi-3, Higashi-ku, Sapporo 065-0013, Japan

a2 Innovative Beauty Science Laboratory, Kanebo Cosmetics, Inc., Odawara 250-0002, Japan

a3 Department of Anatomy, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8638, Japan

a4 LSI Sapporo Clinic, Sapporo 065-0013, Japan


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is responsible for cold- and diet-induced thermogenesis, and thereby contributes to the control of whole-body energy expenditure (EE) and body fat content. BAT activity can be assessed by fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) in human subjects. Grains of paradise (GP, Aframomum melegueta), a species of the ginger family, contain pungent, aromatic ketones such as 6-paradol, 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol. An alcohol extract of GP seeds and 6-paradol are known to activate BAT thermogenesis in small rodents. The present study aimed to examine the effects of the GP extract on whole-body EE and to analyse its relation to BAT activity in men. A total of nineteen healthy male volunteers aged 20–32 years underwent FDG-PET after 2 h of exposure to cold at 19°C with light clothing. A total of twelve subjects showed marked FDG uptake into the adipose tissue of the supraclavicular and paraspinal regions (BAT positive). The remaining seven showed no detectable uptake (BAT negative). Within 4 weeks after the FDG-PET examination, whole-body EE was measured at 27°C before and after oral ingestion of GP extract (40 mg) in a single-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover design. The resting EE of the BAT-positive group did not differ from that of the BAT-negative group. After GP extract ingestion, the EE of the BAT-positive group increased within 2 h to a significantly greater (P< 0·01) level than that of the BAT-negative group. Placebo ingestion produced no significant change in EE. These results suggest that oral ingestion of GP extract increases whole-body EE through the activation of BAT in human subjects.

(Received July 13 2012)

(Revised October 29 2012)

(Accepted November 23 2012)

(Online publication January 11 2013)

Key Words:

  • Grains of paradise;
  • 6-Paradol;
  • Brown adipose tissue;
  • Energy expenditure


c1 Corresponding author: M. Saito, fax +81 11 741 1077, email


  Abbreviations: BAT, brown adipose tissue; CT, computed tomography; EE, energy expenditure; FDG, fluoro-2-deoxyglucose; GP, grains of paradise; PET, positron emission tomography; TRPV1, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1