It’s well known that calcium is good for your bones, but new research shows that an unlikely ingredient may help your body better use calcium to promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis. The ingredient comes from the agave plant, which is used to make tequila.
The findings, which were presented at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, showed that agave fructans increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium by stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.
Fructans are carbohydrates that contain fructose, which is a sugar found in honey and some fruits. The Mexican researchers who presented the study believe that agave fructans are ideal for use in functional foods. Functional foods are processed foods that contain extra ingredients to boost the nutritional value of the food. Breakfast cereals, baked goods, and beverages are commonly infused with functional ingredients.
In addition to increasing the body’s ability to absorb calcium, agave fructans may help reduce the risk of colon cancer, diabetes
, and obesity.
The researchers discovered these health benefits while studying agave fructans’ affects on laboratory mice. The mice that ate agave fructans absorbed more calcium from their food, excreted less calcium in their feces, and had 50% higher protein levels associated with new bone growth than the mice who didn’t eat agave fructans.
Though the agave plant is also used to make tequila, drinking tequila won’t provide the same bone benefits as eating fructan-rich foods. The reason is that agave fructans turn to alcohol during the tequila-making process.
Though the researchers believe these results are very optimistic, they say more work still needs to be done to determine how the health benefits of agave fructans compare to other fructans, such as chicory fructans.
To learn more about how agave fructans may help reduce your risk for osteoporosis, read this American Chemical Society press release