Scientists have revealed one common vegetable that can lower blood sugar levels by 50% and could be a potential treatment for diabetics.
Findings presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Diego showed that onion extract can significantly lower high blood sugar levels and total cholesterol levels, when given with anti-diabetic drugs containing the active ingredient metformin.
Impact on diabetes
The pancreas of people with type 2 diabetes doesn’t make enough insulin to regulate blood sugar, which means that the level will be dangerously high.
The modern lifestyle of eating processed food and sitting all day has turned type 2 diabetes into a worldwide epidemic. In Israel currently, close to 550,000 people have diabetes and about 550,000 people are in the pre-disease stage.
Most cases of type 2 diabetes and co-morbidity can be prevented by proper nutrition i.e. eating fewer foods like white carbs that break down into glucose molecules quickly, and instead eating foods with a low glycemic value.
Lead study author Dr. Anthony Ojieh from the Institute of Education Delta State University Abraka, Nigeria, said that onions are inexpensive, usually available and have been used as a nutritional supplement. They have the potential to treat diabetes.
Rats treated with onion extract
Researchers tested this theory on rats. Three groups of diabetic rats were given different doses of onion extract to check if it would increase the drug’s effectiveness.
Doses were 200, 400 and 600 mg per kg of body weight. Researchers also gave the drug and onion to three groups of non-diabetic rats with normal blood sugar.
The study found that among the diabetic rats, those that received 400 mg and 600 mg of onion extract per kilogram of body weight greatly reduced blood sugar levels by 50 and 35%, respectively, compared to baseline.
The study also found that the onion extract led to weight gain in the non-diabetic rats, but not in the diabetic rats.
Ojieh explained onions are low in calories but it seems that this vegetable increases the metabolism rate which increases appetite, which leads to eating more.
Further research is needed to examine why the extract reduced blood glucose, as the reasons are unclear.