Compounds Found in Fruit Could Improve Health

A natural compound could increase the overall health of patients with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Researchers found 2 compounds in red grapes and oranges that could potentially improve the health of patients with diabetes, and reduce both heart disease and obesity.

In this study, published in Diabetes, trans-resveratrol (tRES) is found in red grapes and hesperetin (HESP) is found in oranges. When administeed together at pharmaceutical doses, the compounds worked together to decrease blood glucose, improve the efficiency of insulin, and improve artery health.

"This is an incredibly exciting development and could have a massive impact on our ability to treat these diseases,” said lead researcher Paul Thornalley, BSc, PhD. “As well as helping to treat diabetes and heart disease it could defuse the obesity time bomb."

The compounds increase the protein glyoxalase1 (Glo1), which neutralizes methylglyoxal (MG) that is derived from sugar and can be quite damaging. Increased MG accumulation with a high energy diet can cause insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes, as well as causing damage to blood vessels and impairing the handling of cholesterol, according to the study.

By blocking MG, patients with obesity can have improved health and could potentially help patients with diabetes. Researchers said this improvement in health has already been proven in patients with obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Though the compounds are found in fruits, the amounts and types cannot be obtained through increased consumption.

The study itself included 32 over weight and obese patients from 18- to 80-years-old and had a body mass index from 25 to 40. Patients were given a daily capsule for 8 weeks and were asked to maintain their usual diet. Food intake was monitored through a questionnaire.

Patients were also asked to not change their daily physical activity. Sugar levels were detected through blood samples. Artery health was measured by artery wall flexibility, and blood markers assessed other aspects.

"Obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at epidemic levels in westernized countries. Glo1 deficiency has been identified as a driver of health problems in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diabetic kidney disease will be the initial target to prove effective treatment for which we are currently seeking commercial investors and partners,” said Dr Thornalley. “The key steps to discovery were to focus on increasing Glo1 and then to combine tRES and HESP together in the formulation for effective treatment. As exciting as our breakthrough is, it is important to stress that physical activity, diet, other lifestyle factors and current treatments should be adhered to."

Researchers said they hope manufacturers will explore this compound to make their pharmaceutical products more effective.