Eating grapefruit could help treat diabetes, a study has found.
Naringenin, an antioxidant which gives grapefruit its bitter taste, can do the same job as two separate drugs currently used to manage Type 2 diabetes, scientists said.
Naringenin has also been found to correct the elevations in triglyceride and cholesterol, preventing the development of insulin resistance and completely normalizing glucose metabolism. Researchers have found it works by genetically reprogramming the liver to burn up excess fat, rather than store it.
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin to properly regulate blood-sugar levels.
Naringenin helps to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It also helps sufferers maintain a healthy weight, which is a vital part of diabetes treatment.
Following a meal the blood is flushed with sugars, causing the liver to create fatty acids, or lipids, for long-term storage. Weight gain puts diabetics at risk of health problems and reduces the effectiveness of insulin.
The scientists found that naringenin makes the liver burn fat instead of storing it.
They said its effect mimics the action of Fenofibrate and Rosiglitazone, two lipid-lowering drugs which are used to help control Type-2 diabetes.
Benefits: Antioxidants found in grapefruits can do the same job as two drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetesResearcher Dr Martin Yarmush Remarka said: ‘The liver behaves as if fasting, breaking down fatty acids instead of carbohydrates.’
The study’s author Yaakov Nahmias, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, hailed naringenin as a ‘remarkable’ treatment for diabetes.
Writing in the science journal PLoS One, he said: ‘Chemicals like naringenin were long sought after by the pharmaceutical industry, but their development was plagued by safety concerns.'
Dr Iain Frame, of Diabetes UK, said: 'This is a step forward in this research area but we shouldn’t get carried away that eating large amounts of grapefruit will be a magic bullet - it won’t.
'We will watch developments with interest to see if the early promise in the laboratory delivers any benefits to people with Type 2 diabetes.'