Agave, source of sweetener that could combat obesity. Agave, source of sweetener that could combat obesity.

Help fighting obesity might be in agave

Plant from which tequila comes contains a sweetener called agavin

A sweetener derived from the agave plant, usually associated with the production of tequila, might help fight obesity and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Known as agavin, a naturally occurring form of fructose called a fructan, has been studied for over a decade by Mercedes López Pérez at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) Centre for Investigation and Advanced Study, also known as Cinvestav, in Irapuato, Guanajuato.

López told the newspaper El Universal that one of the main characteristics of agavins is that they react with the bacteria in the digestive system and generate the feeling that one’s hunger has been satisfied, and at the same time contribute to reducing glucose levels in the bloodstream.

These properties can aid in the treatment of metabolic problems and in raising insulin levels in the blood, she said.

Agavins are “like the favorite food of gut bacteria, one that helps it multiply; when more of it is found in the intestines, the positive impact on the health of the human body is greater,” remarked López.

López’s team at Cinvestav has been testing the properties of agavins for over a decade on laboratory rats, where they have found the compound unequivocally reduces glucose levels in the rodent’s bloodstream.

Agavins also contribute in the creation of short-chain fatty acids, which through a biochemical synthesis process aid in reducing triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the rodents’ organism, positively impacting on body fat reduction.

Further experimentation and testing on the rodents found that a group of females that suffered osteoporosis recovered after consuming agavins for eight weeks.

Research on the effects of agavins in humans is about to move forward in the coming months with further investigation by Cinvestav scientists and physicians from the Civilian Hospital of Guadalajara, Jalisco.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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