Raspberry ketones are claimed to cause fat in cells to be broken down more efficiently, helping your body burn fat faster. They are also claimed to increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate metabolism.
This article explores the research behind raspberry ketones.
What are Raspberry Ketones?
One raspberry contains 200 molecules that contribute to its unique raspberry flavor. One of these, raspberry ketone, was singled out by food manufacturers decades ago because of its strong odor. Berry-flavored candies, soaps and candles produced today are likely to use raspberry ketones. Recently, these ketones have again come to public attention, but this time as a so-called weight loss drug.
Raspberry ketones are actually found in cranberries, blackberries, and red raspberries, or Rubus idaeus L., a plant in the Rosaceae family that is native to Europe, North Africa, and Central Asia. Their essential nutrients include beta-carotene and vitamins A, E and C. Only trace amounts of these ketones are found in the fruit, so berry-flavored foods are often made with laboratory-produced raspberry ketones.
Around 2010, scientists noticed that raspberry ketones have a similar molecular structure to capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the heat in chili peppers. Initial studies also showed that capsaicin prevented weight gain. In light of these findings, scientists conducted studies on mice and human tissue to see if these ketones also affect weight gain.
How do They Work?
The molecular structure of ketones is very similar to two other molecules, capsaicin as stated above – found in chili peppers – and the stimulating deoxynephrine.
Studies have shown that these molecules can boost metabolism. Therefore, the researchers speculate that raspberry ketones may have the same effect.
In a test tube study on mouse adipocytes, raspberry ketones:
- Increased fat breakdown — primarily by making the cells more susceptible to the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine.
- Increased release of the hormone adiponectin.
Adiponectin is released by fat cells and may play a role in regulating metabolism and blood sugar levels.
Normal weight people have much higher levels of adiponectin than overweight people. When people lose weight, the levels of this hormone increase.
Studies have proven that people with low adiponectin levels are at higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and even heart disease.
Therefore, raising adiponectin levels appears to help people lose weight and reduce the risk of many diseases.
However, even though raspberry ketones raise adiponectin in isolated adipocytes in mice, this does not mean that the same effect occurs in living organisms.
Keep in mind that there are natural ways to increase adiponectin that do not involve raspberry ketones.
For example, exercise can increase adiponectin levels by 260% in just one week. Drinking coffee has also been associated with higher levels.
Are There Any Other Benefits?
A study has linked raspberry ketones to cosmetic effects.
When used topically as part of a cream, raspberry ketone appeared to increase hair growth in people with hair loss. It may also improve skin elasticity in healthy women.
However, this study is small and has some flaws. More research is needed to confirm these effects before any claims can be made.
Side Effects Unknown
Raspberry ketones in food and cosmetics are generally considered safe. However, no one knows what short-term or long-term effects raspberry ketone supplements will have on your overall health. There are no studies documenting potential side effects. There are also no studies exploring potential drug or food interactions.
The fact that raspberry ketones are chemically similar to other stimulants suggests the possibility of certain side effects. And there are anecdotal reports of jitteriness, increased blood pressure and rapid heartbeat in people taking raspberry ketone supplements. In the absence of scientific evidence, no one can say what dose of raspberry ketone supplements, if any, might be safe to take.
There is no firm evidence that raspberry ketones cause weight loss in humans, and there is no reason to believe they are more effective than traditional weight loss strategies. While the existing research on other health benefits of ketones is promising, researchers must conduct additional trials to confirm the effects of these compounds on the body.
Those looking to reap the benefits of these ketones without the risks should consider eating more raspberries. Those who want to try supplemental forms of ketones should consult a doctor or nutritionist first.