A little bitter with a little sweet, in the form of a nano-complex dietary supplement taken before meals, can result in a substantial reduction of fat and sugar absorption in the body, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University researchers have found.
The researchers previously showed that naringenin, the molecule responsible for the bitter taste in grapefruits, could potentially be used in the treatment of diabetes, arteriosclerosis and hyper-metabolism.
However, the absorption of naringenin in its natural form is very low. To overcome this obstacle, the Hebrew University-Harvard research team, led by Dr. Yaakov Nahmias of the Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science at the Hebrew University and his graduate student, Maria Shulman, has now created, through further research, a nano-complex of naringenin within a ring of sugar called cyclodextrin. This complex increased the absorption of naringenin by 11 times.
What the researchers found is that a single dose of this complex, taken just before a high fat and high sugar meal given to rats, was able to reduce the generation of VLDL (bad cholesterol) by 42%, and increase insulin sensitivity by 64%.
This is the first demonstration that a dietary supplement can change the way our body can react beneficially to a meal. The discovery is detailed in an article that has been published in the scientific journal, PLoS One.
"The complex is special in that it is taken just before a meal, as a preventative measure. In comparison, existing medications are given only after the chronic development of abnormal lipid levels in the blood," said Dr. Nahmias.
The scientists say that considering the sugary taste of cyclodextrin, naringenin, the cause of the bitter taste in grapefruit, is "no longer such a bitter pill to swallow."
Patents for the development have been applied for by Harvard University and Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University, and clinical tests are now under way in the United States.