Food researchers are exploring the use of the agave plant as a potential alternative sweetener for diabetics and those struggling with obesity. Researchers believe that it could be used to lower blood glucose levels because "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." This is good news for the 26 million people on the planet that have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and/or obesity.
Lowering blood glucose isn't the only benefit of agavins. According to researcher Mercedes G. Lopez, Ph.D., they also "increase the amount of insulin. Agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them." She said they are also the best sugars to support growth of healthy microbes in the mouth and intestines. Agavins are also better than artificial sweeteners because they are not absorbed by the body which can cause common side effects like headaches.
In her study, her team fed a group of mice a standard diet with agavins in their water daily. They weighed the mice daily and checked their glucose levels in their blood weekly. They found that the mice that drank agavins ate less, lost weight, and had lower blood glucose levels.
The one downside is that agavins aren't as sweet as their artificial counterparts. Though given the benefits and decrease in negative side effects, that seems like a fair trade.
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