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How sweet it is!

19 March 2014

No, an extra margarita or four will not help you lose weight, but you can’t blame the media for drinking up the story that agavins — the form of frutose found in agave, which is distilled into tequila — may help reduce blood sugar and reduce weight in humans.

At the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society,  Dr.  Mercedes López Pérez presented an abstract of a yet-to-be peer-reviewed research conducted at the Iraputo campus  of Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry (Cinvesav), which compared weight loss and blood sugar levels among groups of lab mice.

One group received a diet of plain water, while the other groups received water supplemented with either aspartame, glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave syrup or agavins.

The mice that consumed agavins showed a reduction in food intake and weight and a decrease in blood glucose levels.  These findings were similar to the control group that received standard water.

While less sweet tasting than other artificial sweeteners or other sugars, López has suggested that there are ways to overcome the problem (and she has already applied for a patent on the process) and, besides,

“People must somehow understand that we cannot have the best of both worlds,” in terms of finding an alternative sweetener that is still very sweet, she commented.

It’s been known for some time that agavins reduce glucose levels and increase the level of hormones that slow down digestion and stimulate insulin production.

While of course there are commercial interests involved (not only agave imagesproducers, but also Mondelēz International — the makers of Oreos and Chips Ahoy! — helped underwrite the research) and the idea of losing weight through tequila consumption has a certain twisted logic to it, if the Dra. is on the right track, this is major news not so much to the snack food industry and drunks, as it is to public health officials here in Mexico.

Diabetes is the leading cause of death among women, and second leading cause among men, in Mexico.  And, we recently passed the United States as the most obese nation on the planet. According to many, both ailments are in  due largely to a post-NAFTA abandonment of the native diet and a national addiction to sweetened drinks and snacks.  The latter is the rationale behind a recent additional tax on high calorie food products.  The former — a return to traditional food products (like agave) — has received much less attention from the outside world, and has not attracted much support within the general public in Mexico (outside of foodies and diet faddists).  A traditional product, that seems to help diabetics cope with their condition, AND… as a sweetener would lower caloric content enough to avoid the tax bite, is a win-win for us all.

I’ll drink to that!



New tequila plant-based sweetener could be a healthier option for diabetics  (first quotation in post)  Yahoo News (18 March 2014)

 Plant Sugar May Prove to be Healthy Sweetener,  Elizabeth DeVita Raeburn, MedNews Today (16 March 2014) (second quotation)

Sugars found in tequila may protect against obesity, diabetes, (17 March 2014)

Mondelēz International

Cinvestav Unidad Iraputo

World Health Organization, Country Cooperation Strategy at a glance: Mexico


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