– Researchers in Spain have shown that melatonin – a natural hormone produced by the body – may help in controlling weight gain (even without reducing the intake of food) and improving the blood lipid profile by reducing triglycerides, increasing HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Melatonin is found in small quantities in some fruits and vegetables as tart cherries, mustard, Goji berries, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, and coriander. Melatonin is commonly available over-the-counter as a dietary supplement, and is known a sleep aid.

The University of Granada researchers analyzed in young Zucker diabetic obese rats the effects of melatonin on obesity, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure associated with obesity. Melatonin was found to be beneficial for young rats that had not still developed any metabolic or heart disease. The researchers think that melatonin might help in preventing heart diseases associated with obesity and dyslipidemia.

The results obtained in this study have been partially published in the Journal of Pineal Research.

Finally, the authors state that, if this finding is confirmed in humans, administration of melatonin supplements and perhaps intake of food containing melatonin might be a useful tool in fighting obesity and the risks associated with it.

This study was partially funded and supported by the Research Plan of the University of Granada, by the research group CTS-109 (Junta de AndalucĂ­a), Spain and the Erasmus Mundus programme (European Council).

The authors of this study are certain that, in the light of the results obtained, a reduction of conditions associated with obesity and diabetes (heart diseases mainly) can be expected, which is good news, since these conditions reduce obese patients’ quality of life and life expectancy.