Aside from being a key ingredient in tequila, the blue agave features substances that can help improve magnesium and calcium absorption in the body, aiding in maintaining bone health, according to researchers from the Center of Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (Cinvestav).
Based on their research, Dr. Mercedes Lopez and colleagues found that eating fructans in blue agave and having healthy levels of intestinal flora helps in forming new bone, even while osteoporosis is present in animal models.
To test out blue agave's osteoporosis-busting properties, the researchers removed ovaries from female mice, inducing the condition. Agave fructans were then given to the mice, and femur samples were taken eight weeks later to measure mineral absorption and osteocalcin levels, which indicate if new bone is being produced.
Based on results, the researchers saw that mice fed agave fructans synthesized almost 50 percent more of osteocalcin and had bigger bone diameters than their counterparts that were not given the fructans.
When the agave fructans reach the large intestines and meet gut flora living there, short-chain fatty acids are produced, which catch and transport minerals in the gastrointestinal tract to the cells. This leads to a second opportunity to fully utilize nutrients from food no longer available to the body and would have otherwise been expelled as waste.
Given their results, the researchers are hopeful at the possibility of developing an osteoporosis treatment, which could benefit 200 million people around the world living with the condition. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, this figure means that one out of every five cases of fractures in individuals over 50 years old is osteoporosis-related.
Aside from osteoporosis, insulin regulation may also be addressed by agave, according to a study presented to the American Chemical Society.
If you're looking at tequila as an agave source, however, it is best to make sure that you get one made in Mexico, as it is stipulated in a law that the liquor must use 100 percent agave. The same restrictions don't apply in the United States, for instance, so up to 49 percent of what's in a tequila bottle could be a mix of sugar-based alcohols and additives.
Photo: Thomassin Mickaël | Flickr