New Tequila Plant Sweetener May Help Diabetes and Encourage Weight Loss

Mar 17, 2014 07:50 AM EDT | By Staff Writer

Could tequila help lower blood sugar? Probably not, but the sweetener extracted from the plant used to make the alcohol certainly could. Researchers have found that the sweet substance can actually lower blood glucose levels for those who have type 2 diabetes and may help others lose weight.

Tequila is made from agave plant. The natural form of sugar found in the plant, called agavins, is non-digestible and can act as dietary fiber. This means that the sweetener wouldn't raise blood glucose levels.

"We have found that since agavins reduce glucose levels and increase GLP-1, they also increase the amount of insulin," said Mercedes G. Lopez, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them."

GLP-1 is a hormone that slows the stomach from emptying. This stimulates the production of insulin. In other words, agavins could help those with diabetes. The agavins can also help people feel fuller and eat less, which can help those suffering from obesity.

Agavins contain fructoses, but they don't raise blood sugar levels like high-fructose corn syrup. Agavins are fructans, which are fructoses linked together in long branched chains that can't be used by the human body. This means that the agavins can't raise blood sugar levels. That said, agavins aren't quite as sweet as their artificial counterparts, though they still could be useful as a sweetener.

"This study represents the first attempt to evaluate agavins as sweeteners in spite of their lower sweetness compared to sugar," said Lopez in a news release.

The findings could mean a new way to sweeten products in order to help those suffering from type 2 diabetes. It could also potentially help those struggling with their weight. In fact, the new study opens up whole new opportunities for agavins to be used as sweeteners in the future.

The findings were presented at the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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