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Cranberries Linked to Blood Sugar Management

Current blood sugar control drugs work by inhibiting enzymes responsible for starch digestion, but they can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea. A recent study has found that tannin extracts from cranberries and pomegranates may help slow starch digestion, possibly providing a dietary way to control blood sugar.

The researchers extracted proanthocyanidins and ellagitannins (referred to as tannins) from pomegranates, cranberries, grapes, and cocoa. They tested their ability to bind to two digestive enzymes responsible for carbohydrate digestion, alpha-amylase and glucoamylase.

They found that the larger and more complex tannins found in cranberry were most effective. Cranberry worked best on alpha-amylase, followed by grape, pomegranate, and cocoa. Cranberry, cocoa, and grape tannins were all able to slow down glucoamylase to varying degrees.

The study was conducted by researchers at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. It was published on January 5, 2013, in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Cranberries have anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties, and are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. They have been shown to provide a lengthy list of health benefits including improved urological health, protection against heart disease, and inflammatory diseases. They also have been linked with lower plaque formation on teeth and improved cholesterol levels.

Cranberries have a sour taste, so people usually drink cranberry juice with added sugar. However the added sugar can be detrimental to overall health, so it is best to stick with a low-calorie version.

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