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Aromatic alternative to oat bran.

Aromatic alternative to oat bran

Add yet another soluble fiber to the dietary arsenal against diabetes and elevated serum cholesterol: a gel derived from the aromatic seeds of fenugreek, an Asian legume. Two years ago, Zecharia Madar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Rehovot, Israel, showed that dietary supplements of ground fenugreek seeds could lower blood glucose levels in both healthy people and diabetics. Now he and Ilan Shomer of the Agricultrual Research Organization in Bet DagaM Israel, have identified a viscous substance called galactomannan as the ingredient apparently responsible for fenugreek's glucose-and cholesterol-moderating roles.

In experiments with living rats and isolated rat intestines, they found that the galctomannan-based gel fraction in fenugreek seeds inhibits the gut's digestion and absorption of starch -- probably by surrounding the starch in a sticky goo. This may have been what hindered the release of glucose into the rat's blood, preventing the type of blood sugar increase that can characterize a diabetic's response to a meal. Glucose inhibition was highest when the rats ate the gel and the starch at the same time, the researchers report in the August JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY.

The experiments also showed that fenugreek gel tied up bile acids -- cholesterol-derived compounds that aid in fat digestion. This suggests an explanation for the herb's reported ability to lower cholesterol, Madar and Shomer say. Trapped bile acids may get excreted rather than recycled, signaling the body to convert more cholesterol into new bile acids.
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Title Annotation:gel derived from fenugreek, an Asian legume
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 18, 1990
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