The sweetener, found in tequila, that’s good for people with diabetes

Earlier in October, we learned that a glass of red wine with dinner could help you control your blood glucose. Just one, mind you. The researchers were quick to point that guzzling bottles of the stuff would do your glucose control no favours at all.

Turns out red wine isn’t alone in this respect. News from Mexico says a sweetener found in tequila might have a similar effect.

Tequila of all things? How does that work?

The sweetener in question is called agavin. It comes from the same plant as agave nectar but, unlike agave nectar, it contains no calories. Agavin is what’s known as a fructan, a naturally occurring form of fructose that is chemically distinct from agave nectar.

Agavin is made up of long chains of individual sugar molecules. For reasons known only to people in white coats, that means it can’t be digested. That’s a good thing. Because it can’t be digested, it can’t be broken down into blood glucose. But it still tastes sweet; just not as sweet as agave nectar (which is why nobody ever drank a shot of tequila and commented on its sweetness.)

Researchers at Mexico’s Center de Investigaci√≥n y de Estudios Avanzados (try saying that after a few tequilas) discovered that agavin might offer even more benefits to people with diabetes, particularly type 2.

What benefits?

The researchers gathered together some mice, then split them into two groups. The first group were given agavin in their water; the second group weren’t. At the end of the study, the agavin mice had lower blood glucose levels and higher insulin 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, lead author. “Agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them.”

Of course, we mustn’t get carried away. No other study has reached this conclusion, and the dangers of drinking lots of alcohol with diabetes remain the same. In other words, this study should in no way encourage you to drink bottles and bottles of tequila. (We have to say that. Don’t worry, we don’t really think you’re silly enough to drink bottles of tequila based on one study.)

It does suggest that agavin might have some interesting properties. We look forward to more studies on the subject in the future. In the meantime, we have a new low-carb option when we visit the bar. And we’ll drink to that.

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About the author

Kurt Wood

Kurt is 22 years old, but he looks about five. He was born in Coventry and enjoys novels in which nothing much happens and comfortable pyjamas (because he's young and exciting). In 2014, he was once again overlooked for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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