agavins, the properties derived from the tequila plant, may actually help lower blood sugar and support weight loss, researchers from the American Chemical Society reported this week.
Research conducted on mice found that adding agavins to the rodents' water resulted in lower blood sugar levels, reduced appetite, and weight loss, when compared to other mice whose water was supplemented with sucrose, glucose, fructose or aspartame.
Agavins not metabolized by the body
Agavins, unlike other types of sweeteners, aren't absorbed by the body because they are a type of fiber, the researchers explained. This prevents blood sugar changes and it also means that agavins can help people feel full and curb appetite.
“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans,” the study authors wrote. “This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people.”
Not to be confused with agave nectar or agave syrup, which contain fructose and therefore can raise blood sugar, agavins are long-chain fructoses that the body can't use.
Benefits could outweigh potential concerns
While the research suggests that agavins could be a viable sugar alternative for diabetics, they might also have a few drawbacks.
"Agavins don’t taste as sweet as other forms of sugar such as sucrose, fructose and glucose," reports Melanie Haiken in Forbes.
Moreover, like other fibers, agavins have the potential to cause digestive disturbances in people who are sensitive.
Still, study author Mercedes G. López, Ph.D, suggests that agavins are certainly better than artificial sweeteners.
Some research has even found that agavins can increase beneficial bacteria in the mouth and intestines.
"Agavins are not expensive and they have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them," López said.