Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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The most effective approach to any type of weight loss is exercise, but studies suggest supplementation with tea may also offer benefits. Pu-erh has long been consumed as one of the most popular beverages in Asia. Historically used in the treatment of various illnesses, it has also shown promise in reducing the waist circumference of obese patients.

Carrying too much visceral fat substantially increases the risk of future metabolism disturbances, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The abdominal fat is stored deep inside the belly, encasing the organs, intestines and liver, and causing the belly to protrude.

It is, however, possible to have a slender appearance and carry too much visceral fat, as it cannot always be seen.

Moreover, it’s important not to confuse visceral fat for subcutaneous fat, which sits just under the surface of the skin and can be prodded.

“This is the fat you’re able to feel when you pick your skin. It’s also the fat you might be able to see on your arms and legs,” explains CBHS Health.

Despite being one of the deadliest fats, visceral fat also happens to be one of the easiest to shed with physical activity and diet.

In 2011, research published in the journal Nutrient Research observed the fat-burning effects of Pu-erh tea on a sample of 36 overweight adults.

The participants consumed 333mg of the tea extract three times daily for 12 weeks, which resulted in “significantly improved body weight”, according to Healthline.

Their body mass index (BMI), and abdominal fat measurements, had drastically improved compared to subjects in a control group.

An important note to make about the study, however, is that it used tea extract containing higher concentrations of active ingredients.

This means that the research is unable to prove that drinking commercial versions of Pu-erh tea will offer the same effects.

However, other researchers have observed equally promising results on both visceral fat and lipid profiles, perhaps attenuated by the tea’s natural statins.

“The statin compound lovastatin has been identified in Pu-erh, and lovastatin levels increase with the fermentation of tea leaves,” wrote the journal of Clinical Interventions in Ageing in 2016.

It continued: “However, the levels of statin that can be found in some sources of Pu-erh tea are several hundredfolds lower than a low dose of statin deliver as a drug for hyperlipidemia.”

In other words, it is unlikely to contribute significantly to the overall effects of Pu-erh consumption.

The significant lipid-lowering effects of Puerh-tea have nonetheless been observed in rodents.

In 2011, a body of research summarised in the journal of Phytotherapy Research suggested Pu-erh tea significantly improved the lipid profiles of rodents in eight weeks.

The researchers wrote: “Pu-erh tea administration […] significantly lowered plasma total cholesterol, triglyceride concentrations and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in rats with […] obesity.”

The researchers did not observe any improvements in levels of high-density lipopritein (HDL) cholesterol, however, which the body relies on to control bad cholesterol levels.

Improvements in the rodent’s adipose tissue led researchers to believe that Pu-erh tea could attenuate visceral fat accumulation in rats.

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