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Some foods and beverages could hold clues for future diabetes treatment

Following a doctor's advice on how to keep diabetes in check is always the best course of action and researchers are constantly on the lookout for compounds that someday could help physicians better treat the disease. Of special interest to chemists are naturally occurring compounds found in certain healthy foods and beverages. Often these compounds become the model or the active ingredient for new drug therapies that maximize the food's beneficial effects.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and an appropriate time to highlight some recent studies into food compounds that may hold clues for the future treatment of diabetes. All of the studies were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Tea fights cataracts, boosts insulin activity -- New research in animals suggests that tea may be a simple, inexpensive means of preventing diabetes and its ensuing complications, including cataracts. Researchers fed green and black tea to diabetic rats for three months and then monitored the chemical composition of the rats' blood and eye lenses. At levels that would be equivalent to less than five cups of tea per day for a human, both teas significantly inhibited cataract formation relative to a control group which did not get tea, according to Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemist at the University of Scranton (Penn.) and lead author of the paper.

Another study on tea, done by researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that the popular beverage may increase insulin activity. Using black, green and oolong teas, the scientists found that tea increased insulin activity by about 15-fold in tests using fat cells obtain from rats. The effect was primarily due to epigallocatechin gallate, an active compound found in tea, says study leader Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D., of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
17-Nov-2005


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