Putting tequila and choco­late to the test

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

When Out­liers heard the news about new re­search into tequila and co­coa, it sparked thoughts of pre­scrip­tions for a choco­late mar­garita. It seems re­search into sub­stances linked to these items is shed­ding light on some promis­ing health ben­e­fits. But, alas, tequila shots and choco­late bars aren’t likely to be rec­om­mended by your doc­tor any­time soon.

Ac­cord­ing to a study pre­sented re­cently at an Amer­i­can Chemical So­ci­ety meet­ing, a sweet­ener cre­ated from the plant used to make tequila could lower blood glu­cose lev­els and have other ben­e­fits. The agave plant con­tains a nat­u­ral form of su­gar called agavins, which re­searchers say showed much ben­e­fit in an an­i­mal study.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors fed mice their nor­mal diet, but added agavins to their wa­ter sup­ply. Over time, the mice that drank the agavins ate less, lost weight and had lower blood su­gar lev­els, when com­pared to the con­trol­group mice, which drank sweet­en­ers such as glu­cose, fruc­tose, su­crose and as­par­tame.

The re­sults are pre­lim­i­nary and need to be repli­cated, but in the mean­time, re­searchers say, don’t ex­pect that a mar­garita is go­ing to pro­vide the same ef­fect, since the process of mak­ing al­co­hol changes the chem­istry.

Like­wise, cho­co­holics every­where greed­ily con­sumed the news that re­searchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospi­tal in Bos­ton and the Fred Hutchin­son Cancer Re­search Cen­ter in Seat­tle will be con­duct­ing a five-year study test­ing whether fla­vanols—the nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring com­pounds found in co­coa beans—can help pre­vent heart at­tacks and strokes. More than 18,000 men and women na­tion­wide will par­tic­i­pate in the study spon­sored by Mars—the maker of M&Ms, Snick­ers and Twix.

Pa­tients won’t be gorg­ing on choco­late bars, though. Just as the mak­ing of tequila puts the ki­bosh on agavins’ ben­e­fits, the process of pro­duc­ing choco­late does the same for fla­vanols. Re­searchers will be test­ing a high-dose sup­ple­ment and a com­bi­na­tion of mul­ti­vi­ta­mins, which they hope will pro­vide “con­clu­sive ev­i­dence” on fla­vanols’ ben­e­fits.

Shots of tequila weren’t a part of the re­search into agave’s health ben­e­fits.

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