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Adv Nutr. 2017 May 15;8(3):473-483. doi: 10.3945/an.116.014332. Print 2017 May.

Dietary Factors Promoting Brown and Beige Fat Development and Thermogenesis.

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Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; and.
Department of Community Health Sciences, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; and


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specialized fat tissue that has a high capacity to dissociate cellular respiration from ATP utilization, resulting in the release of stored energy as heat. Adult humans possess a substantial amount of BAT in the form of constitutively active brown fat or inducible beige fat. BAT activity in humans is inversely correlated with adiposity, blood glucose concentrations, and insulin sensitivity; this suggests that strategies aimed at BAT-mediated bioenergetics are an attractive therapeutic target in combating the continuing epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Despite advances in knowledge regarding the developmental lineage and transcriptional regulators of brown and beige adipocytes, our current understanding of environmental modifiers of BAT thermogenesis, such as diet, is limited. In this review, we consolidated the latest research on dietary molecules that may serve to promote BAT thermogenesis. Here, we summarized the thermogenic function of selected phytochemicals (e.g., capsaicin, resveratrol, curcumin, green tea, and berberine), dietary fatty acids (e.g., fish oil and conjugated linoleic acids), and all-trans retinoic acid, a vitamin A metabolite. We also delineated the proposed mechanisms whereby these dietary molecules promote BAT activity and/or browning of white adipose tissue. Characterizing thermogenic dietary factors may offer novel insight into revising nutritional intervention strategies aimed at obesity and diabetes prevention and management.


UCP1; WAT browning; beige adipocytes; brown adipocyte; dietary molecule; thermogenesis

[Available on 2018-05-01]

Conflict of interest statement

2: Author disclosures: M Okla, J Kim, K Koehler, and S Chung, no conflicts of interest.

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