Fruit compounds could help treat obesity, type 2 diabetes, and CVD

A DAILY supplement consisting of compounds derived from red grapes and oranges could offer a promising new treatment for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This is the conclusion of a new study by researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. In the journal Diabetes, researchers reveal that the two fruit compounds work together to reduce blood glucose levels, improve insulin activity, and boost the health of arteries.
Obesity affects more than a third of adults in the United States, raising their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer. At the same time, cardiovascular disease (CVD) – a term used to describe diseases of the heart and blood vessels – is responsible for around 1 in 3 deaths in the U.S., while diabetes affects around 9.3 percent of Americans. Such statistics highlight the need for more effective treatment strategies for these conditions.
Now, study leader Paul Thornalley, professor in systems biology at Warwick, and colleagues suggest red grapes and oranges may pave the way for such treatments. For their study, the team investigated the effects of a compound called trans-resveratrol (tRES), found in red grapes, and a compound found in oranges called hesperetin (HESP). On testing a combination of the compounds in cell culture, the researchers found that it increased expression of glyoxalase 1 (Glo1) – an enzyme that neutralizes a compound called methylglyoxal (MG).
The team explains that MG is a key driver of sugar’s harmful effects on the body; a combination of high MG levels and a high-calorie diet is a cause of insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. It also damages blood vessels and can drive high cholesterol levels – a risk factor for CVD. As such, the team hypothesizes that blocking MG by increasing Glo1 expression could reverse these effects.
“Obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are at epidemic levels in Westernised countries. Glo1 deficiency has been identified as a driver of health problems in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” notes Prof. Thornalley. Next, the team tested the tRES-HESP combination on 32 adults aged 18-80 who had a body mass index (BMI) of between 25-40, falling into the overweight or obese categories.
Participants were given the fruit compound combination in the form of a supplement, which they were asked to take once a day for 8 weeks. During the study period, subjects were asked to continue with their usual diets and not to increase physical activity, enabling the researchers to gain a more accurate picture of the supplements’ effects.

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