Mexican scientists are investigating whether the blue agave plant, which is used for making tequila, could be used for treating osteoporosis.
It’s estimated that 10.4 million Americans have osteoporosis, which is a disease that erodes the strength of the bones, causing them to fracture easily. The bone thinning disease also affects 200 million of people worldwide, which means that one of every five fractures, in the population with more than 50 years of age, is related to the disease, the International Osteoporosis Foundation says.
However, the scientists say that this particular type of agave plant has substances capable of improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium, essential minerals to maintain bone health.
These substances are known as fructans, which are a type of fruit molecule that occurs in foods such as agave, artichokes, asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions (including spring onions), yacón, jícama, and wheat.
The scientists conducted various experiments with mice in which osteoporosis had been induced. They administered fructans, and took femur samples later to measure the absorption of minerals as well as osteocalcin, a protein that indicates the production of new bone.
“It was found that mice that consumed this fructans synthesized nearly 50 percent more of such protein, in addition that the diameter of their bones was higher compared with the subjects which were not supplied with derivatives of the agave" says lead investigator Dr. Mercedes López of the research, which appears in Investigación y Desarrollo.
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