Although popular libations for this St. Patrick’s Day are Irish coffee and green beer, Cinco de Mayo is not that far away when Mariachi bands and Margaritas will be featured. A new study has found that tequila may reduce the risk of diet-induced obesity and type 2 diabetes. The findings were presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) annual meeting, which runs from March 16 through March 20 in Dallas, Texas.
The researchers are affiliated with the Centro de Incetagcioan y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico. They note that natural sugars derived from the agave plant, known as agavins, significantly protected a group of mice against diet-induced obesity and type 2 diabetes. The mice were divided into seven groups. One group received a diet of plain water; the other groups were given water supplemented with either aspartame, glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave syrup, or agavins. The mice that received agavins were found to reduce their food intake and weight, resulting in a decrease in blood glucose levels. These findings were similar to the control group that received plain water.
Agavins act as dietary fibers and do not raise blood sugar; thus, the researchers are of the opinion that these substances could be used as an alternative sweetening agent. They noted that agavins have a great potential as a light sweetener. They wrote: “[Agavins] are sugars, highly soluble, with a low glycemic index and a neutral taste…This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people.”
Tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant, primarily around the Mexican city of Tequila. The researchers noted that, at present, agavins are not widely available and not as sweet as regular sugars.
The most recent Los Angeles County Health Survey reports that the rate of type 2 diabetes is steadily increasing among adults aged 18 and older; from 1997 through 1999, it rose from 6.6% to 7.6%; it was 7.6% in 2002, and 8.6% in 2005. Obesity is the single most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Other risk factors include increasing age, family history, and physical inactivity. In Los Angeles County, direct costs of medical care for diabetes and indirect costs associated with disability and lost productivity were estimated to be $5.6 billion in 2005.