Tequila plant sweetener could help reduce blood sugar, weight among diabetics
A sweetener created from the plant used to make tequila could lower blood glucose levels for millions of type 2 diabetes sufferers and help them and the obese lose weight, according to researchers.
The main reason it could be valuable, they explained, is that agavins, a natural form of sugar found in the agave plant, are non-digestible and can act as a dietary fiber, so they would not raise blood glucose.
Their report was part of the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, being held at the Dallas Convention Center and area hotels.
"We have found that since agavins reduce glucose levels and increase GLP-1, they also increase the amount of insulin," Mercedes G. Lopez, Ph.D said.
GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is a hormone that slows the stomach from emptying, thereby stimulating production of insulin.
"Agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them," she added.
In addition, agavins, like other fructans, which are made of the sugar fructose, are the best sugars to help support growth of healthful microbes in the mouth and intestines, she said.
Lopez, who is with Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, also noted that agavins can help people feel fuller, which could help them eat less.
Agavins contain fructoses, which begs the question: Are agavins like high-fructose corn syrup, a processed sweetener that has gotten a lot of bad press recently?
Lopez pointed out that, indeed, high-fructose corn syrup is loaded with fructose sugars and, therefore, can raise blood sugar levels. But agavins are fructans, which are fructoses linked together in long, branched chains.
The human body can't use them in that configuration, so they don't affect blood sugar, she explained. Agavins also sometimes get confused with agave nectar or agave syrup, which appears on many health-food store shelves.
These products contain fructans that have been broken down into individual fructoses, so they are much more similar to high-fructose corn syrup.
(Posted on 17-03-2014)