Now here's a catch-22. Free radicals are generally known to be a bad thing in the medical world. Basically unstable oxygen molecules, free radicals cause a process called oxidation that can lead to heart disease and stroke. But new research is finding a curious benefit to free radicals—they're a natural appetite suppressant.
Published in Nature Medicine, a new study found that an increase in free radical levels in the hypothalamus directly or indirectly suppressed appetite in obese mice by activating melanocortin neurons, which tell the body it has had enough food. When looking at mice that had diet-induced obesity, researchers found that levels of free radicals were kept low, preventing the activation of melanocortin neurons—and therefore the ability to feel full after eating.
With obesity rates on the rise, researchers believe that this new information could be used to curb the tide, but they have to be very careful about it (hence the testing in mice, not humans). Free radicals have long been thought to be the reason why we age, so increasing their release in the body is tricky, if not unsafe. To determine this, more research is being done on free radicals, satiety and if the risk is worth it in humans.