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Plant Sugar: Healthy Sweetener

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Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Agavins, the natural sugars obtained from the agrave stems led to weight loss and low blood sugar in mice that became obese from poor diet and type-2 diabetes, in reference to a Mexican research.

The study involved male C57BL/6J mice which were randomly distributed into seven groups each containing four mice. The rest were fed on standard diet and water supplemented with only fructose, sucrose, agave syrup, agavins, or aspartame.

In reference to Mercedes G. Lopez, PhD, of the centro de Investiogacion y de EStudios Avanzados, the group that consumed water supplemented with agavins cut down their food intake, lost weight and demonstrated low blood glucose levels. This was revealed during the annual American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in Dallas.

“They were, most of the time, not different from the control,” she said via an email to MedPage Today.

This is the first study on agravins, the fructans composed of long branched chains of fructose which serves as a dietary fiber and don’t increase blood sugar when used as a sweetener.

Lopez wrote in the ACS abstract indicating they believe agavins have a great potential as a light sweetener and highly soluble with a low glycemic index and a neutral taste.

The most outstanding feature with agavins, according to Lopez, is that they are non-digestible and acts as a dietary fiber, putting it at a tremendous position for the obese and diabetic individuals.

Previous researches done by Lopez have shown that agavins decrease glucose levels and increase glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) which is the hormones that slows stomach emptying and triggers insulin production.

Nora Saul, MS, RD, CDE, manager of nutrition services at Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, who never participated in the study told the Medpage Today that there are circumstances where artificial sweeteners are useful in helping people to maintain glucose control. Nora said if that was true, it could be an additional benefit to diabetic patients.

The only setback with agavins is its unavailability. Additionally, it has half the calories of regular sugars, meaning they are not as sweet, according to Lopez through a mail.

Consuming high amounts of sugar contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type-2 diabetes. In reference to American Heart Association and the American Diabetic Association, it’s unclear if sugar alternative will be a solution.

They said in a joint statement that they are still inconclusive about whether the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in displacing caloric sweeteners, such as added sugars, can reduce the intake of carbs, calorie intake, or body weight, benefit appetite, or lower diabetes and heart disease risk factors in the end.

The study was supported by Mondelez International and Agavaceae Produce.

López is on a patent for the methodology to extract agavins.

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