Grape extract resveratrol can help fight diabetes

July 7, 2010 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Resveratrol, that anti-oxidant that is very heart-friendly, seems to positively affect blood sugar levels, too, thus can be a potential anti-diabetic agent. This is according to several studies whose results were presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

 Resveratrol is found in red wine, grapes, dark berries, cacao and certain nuts. It is one of the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet that makes it heart-friendly.

Previous studies in mice have shown that this grape extract and component of red wine can help fight diabetes. Current studies in humans show promising results.

One small pilot study had participants consisting of 10 patients who were given resveratrol supplementation at high doses – i.e. amounts that are even higher than what is found in wine, grapes and peanuts. The results were very encouraging: resveratrol supplementation lowered post-meal glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity.

According to study author Dr. Jill Crandall, associate professor of clinical medicine and director of the Diabetes Clinical Trials Unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine:

“The results of this pilot study are preliminary and need to be confirmed in larger numbers of patients. However, we are encouraged by these findings and plan to conduct additional studies to further explore the potential utility of resveratrol in improving glucose metabolism.”

Another study looked at the effect of resveratrol in overweight, middle-aged insulin resistant patients. Using a highly sensitive measurement technique, the research team of Prof. Meredith Hawkins detected a 40% improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Not only does resveratrol regulate blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity, it also helps prevents complications such as heart disease and retinopathy. So how does resveratrol fight diabetes?

According to Dr. Matt Whiteman, researcher at the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, Peninsula Medical School:

Resveratrol’s antioxidant effects in the test tube are well documented but our research shows the link between high levels of glucose, its damaging effect on cell structure, and the ability of resveratrol of protect against and mend that damage… Resveratrol or related compounds could be used to block the damaging effect of glucose which in turn might fight the often life threatening complications that accompany diabetes. It could well be the basis of effective diet-based therapies for the prevention of vascular damage caused by hyperglycaemia in the future.”

However, before downing bottles of red wine, we should keep in mind that alcoholic drinks come with health risks, especially for those with diabetes. The safest source of resveratrol is probably red grapes, especially the skin.

Sweet potatoes that might just prevent cancer

July 23, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

purpple-potato-kansas-suAnthocyanins are the compounds that give dark fruits (blueberries, red currants, brambles, blood oranges, red grapes) their pigmentation. They are also present in vegetables such red cabbage, red beets, purple corn, and eggplant peels. And now they are also present in sweet potaoes – the purple kind, that is. The purple sweet potato has been specially bred by researchers at Kansas Stte University. But for what purpose? For the prevention of cancer.

Anthocyanins are anti-oxidants and are believed to have health benefits and medicinal value for a wide range of ailments, from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Because they are present in high abundance in nature and in the food stuff we eat everyday, they have become one of the most popular research topics of nutritionists and epidemiologists.

The purple sweet potatoes are really purple inside as well as outside, and well, have significantly higher concentrations fo anthocyanins than ordinary sweet potatoes you normally find in the supermarmet. Especially dominant were two anthyocynin pigment derivatives cyanidin and peonidin. Aside from these two, the potaoes have also much higher total phenolic content. Phenols are also strong anti-oxidants and were reported to have some anti-aging properties.

So here are the advantages of this new “dark” breed of sweet potatoes:

  • Higher anti-oxidant capacity
  • Potential anti-aging properties
  • High anti-cancer components

To test for anti-cancer properties, the researchers treated cultures of human colon cancer cells with cyanidin and peonidin. The results showed “significant cell growth inhibition for the cancer cells, but there were no significant changes in the cell cycle.”

This research is just one of the many that is trying to breed fruit and vegetables that contain more than the usual anthocyanin content. Some of the breeding are done the traditional way whereas others are done using genetic engineering. Plants that are easy to grown, eaten in large quantities, and are usually available the whole year round are especially targetted, such as tomotoes, and yes – sweet potatoes.

Other plants that are rich in anthocyanins are (source: wikipedia)

Food source Anthocyanin content in mg per 100 g
 

 

açaí

320

blackcurrant

190-270

chokeberry

1,480

eggplant

750

orange

~200

Marion blackberry

317

black raspberry

589

raspberry

365

wild blueberry

558

cherry

350-400

redcurrant

80-420

red grape

888

red wine

24-35

purple corn

1,642

 Photo credit: Kansas State University

Thanksgiving special: cranberries can protect you from cancer and infection

November 26, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

They look good, they taste good but are they healthy? Fresh cranberries, cranberry juice – and not to forget the cranberry sauce that goes with the turkey on the Thanksgiving table.

Well, good news for cranberry lovers because your favorite berries actually give you health benefits that can blow your mind out and kill the cancer cells inside you.

Background info

The American cranberry, whose scientific name is Vaccinium macrocarpon is a fruit native to North America. It is closely related to two other American natives of the same genus, the blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolia) and the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). There are also other types of cranberries found in Europe.

Cranberries and ovarian cancer

A study by researchers at Rutgers University showed that cranberries can help enhance the potency of chemotherapy platinum drugs like cisplatin and paraplatin used in the treatment of ovarian cancer. The researchers demonstrated this effect of cranberry extract in studies on ovarian cell lines in the lab. In addition, the berry extract may also help in reducing the side effects of the said chemotherapeutic drugs.

According a report in the Science Daily

the active compounds in the extract are powerful antioxidants called ‘A-type’ proanthocyanidins that are unique to cranberries and not found in other fruits. .. Based on research by other groups, these compounds appear to bind to and block certain tumor promoter proteins found in the ovarian cancer cells, they say. The result is that the cancer cells become more vulnerable to attack from the platinum drugs…” 

Cranberries and infections

According to a report in the American Academy of Family Physicians, cranberries can be used in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

“Research suggests that its mechanism of action is preventing bacterial adherence to host cell surface membranes… more recent, randomized controlled trials demonstrate evidence of cranberry’s utility in urinary tract infection prophylaxis. Supporting studies in humans are lacking for other clinical uses of cranberry. Cranberry is a safe, well-tolerated herbal supplement that does not have significant drug interactions.”

Another research indicates that cranberries also have a protective effect against the bacteria Helicobacter pylori that causes stomach ulcers.

Other health benefits

Cranberries are rich in polyphenols and oxidants, compounds known for their benefits to cardiovascular health. This study conducted by researchers of the Winona State University demonstrated that low-calorie, unsweetened cranberry juice has a positive effect on the metabolism of people with type 2 diabetes.

So on Thursday, remember to concentrate on the healthy part of the Thanksgiving feast! For the nutritional details of cranberries and cranberry products, click here.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.