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Green Tea and Grape Seed Extract Show Blood Sugar Benefits

A recent study suggests that extracts from green tea and grape seed may slow down some enzymes that digest starch, which could potentially provide a viable natural alternative to current treatments for type-2 diabetes.

The researchers examined the effects these extracts on alpha-glucosidase and alpha-amylase, two enzymes that are essential in the breakdown of starches in your digestive system. In someone with type-2 diabetes, these enzymes digest starches at a faster rate, leading to dangerous spikes in blood sugar.

Keeping blood sugar at a manageable level is essential for type-2 diabetics, as changes in blood sugar can cause damage to the cardiovascular and neurological systems. Blood sugar is usually treated with prescription medicines, which have been shown to cause diarrhea and other stomach problems.

The researchers found that grape seed and green tea both inhibited alpha-glucosidase, but only grape seed inhibited alpha-amylase. They believe that the effects seen here were a result of the high catechin levels—particularly epigallocatchin gallate—found in these extracts. Catechins are a type of antioxidant.

Results of the study, conducted by researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute were published online ahead of print on June 15, 2012, in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Catechins have been linked to other health benefits including lower cholesterol, weight loss, improved heart health, aiding in digestion and decreased risk of neurodegenerative diseases. They can also be found in red wine, apples, and berries.

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