WASHINGTON - The natural sugar used to make tequila could offer health benefits to people with diabetes and the obese, research out of Mexico finds.
Agavins are from the agave plant and are non-digestible. They act as a dietary fiber.
Agave can be used to be used to make tequila, but it's not the same as the agave syrup you get in the grocery store.
Mice fed agavins in their water ate less and had lower blood glucose levels, according to research presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas.
The mice also produced a hormone called GLP-1. GLP-1 slows how quickly the stomach empties and stimulates the production of insulin. It essentially keeps the stomach fuller for longer.
"We have found that since agavins reduce glucose levels and increase GLP-1, they also increase the amount of insulin," said researcher Mercedes G. López with Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico.
López said while agavins are not as sweet as artificial sweeteners, they are better than them because the artificial sweeteners can cause side effects and are absorbed by the body.
"This study represents the first attempt to evaluate agavins as sweeteners in spite of their lower sweetness compared to sugar,'" she said.
While tequila is made with agave and the agavins are the only carbohydrates in it, they are not found in the finished product. Lopez said the ethanol in tequila comes from the fermentation of glucose and fructose generated after agave pines are cooked.