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Science on Purpose: Tequila plant could reduce obesity and diabetes

Tequila has always been known to have special properties — such as the ability to inebriate — but only recently was it discovered that its sugar can reduce blood sugars and obesity.

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By Taylor Breckles (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: March 26, 2014

(Image: sjsharktank /flickr)

(Image: sjsharktank /flickr)

Tequila has always been known to have special properties — such as the ability to inebriate — but only recently was it discovered that its sugar can reduce blood sugars and obesity.

New research concerning the medicinal properties of tequila was presented at the 247th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The proposal suggested that a sweetener made from the blue agave plant used in making tequila can help to lower blood glucose levels.

Agavins (sugar found in agave composed of long strips of fructose called fructans) act like a sweet-tasting dietary fibre and can’t be broken down by the human body because of their size. They are not to be confused with agave nectar and syrup, which are already popular artificial sweeteners and have had their fructans broken down into smaller absorptive pieces.

Researchers also discovered that agavins increase the production of the hormone GLP-1 which triggers the production of insulin by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties.

“We have found that since agavins reduce glucose levels and increase GLP-1, they also increase the amount of insulin,” says lead researcher Mercedes Lopez of the ACS.

The agavins are sweet to taste, but the body suffers no side effects of regular sugars or artificial sweeteners since they can’t be broken down as easily.

Lopez also remarks how agavins help the mouth and intestines by promoting the growth of healthy microbes in those areas.

In addition to the health benefits, using the newly discovered sweetener has an economic benefit as well.

“Agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those few people who can’t tolerate them,” Lopez says.

However, there is a minor shortcoming of these types of sweeteners as well.

“One slight downside … is that agavins are not quite as sweet as their artificial counterparts,” Lopez says.

This is good news for students suffering through three-hour classes during lunch time. Because this sugar can slow the rate at which the stomach empties, students will be able to last longer before hunger kicks in. This means students won’t have to fear that the monster in their stomachs will make an appearance.

Tequila may not be good for the liver, but the stomach, intestines, and mouth are more than content with this new sugar.

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