A Mexican scientist has identified substances from the agave plant that enhance absorption of calcium in the body.
Apart from being the raw material for making tequila and some mezcals, the Blue Agave can improve a body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium, essential minerals to maintain bone health.
Dr. Mercedes López, oft the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) in central Mexico., states that “the consumption of fructans contained in the agave, in collaboration with adequate intestinal micriobiota, promotes the formation of new bone, even with the presence of osteoporosis.”
How did they reach this conclusion? A research team removed the ovaries from female mice to induce osteoporosis. The next step was to administer agave fructans and eight weeks later a femur sample was taken to measure the absorption of minerals and osteocalcin, protein that indicates the production of new bone.
“It was found that mice that consumed this fructans synthesized nearly 50 percent more of such protein, in addition that the diameter of their bones was higher compared with the subjects which were not supplied with derivatives of the agave” López reports.
These substances reach the large intestine intact and interact with the microbiota living there to become short-chain fatty acids. These catch minerals available in the tract and help to transport them through the cells.
“This way, we have a second chance to take advantage of the nutrients that were no longer available to the body. However, it is very important that people have a healthy intestinal microbiome, because only then it is possible that bacteria ferment fructans to transform them into fatty acids, “says Dr. Lopez.
The results provide the possibility of developing an alternative in the treatment of osteoporosis, a disease that, according to the latest statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, affects 200 million of people worldwide, which means that one of every five fractures, in the population with more than 50 years of age, is related to the disease.
Therefore, Lopez hopes to perform clinical studies to prove that fructans can be used as an adjuvant, for which she already applied for a patent on a national level.
Tequila or mezcal?
Tequila must be made from the Blue Agave, but mezcal can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave, including the Blue Agave.
Tequila is made in the arid highlands of central Mexico from fermented and distilled sap of this one species of agave, an indigenous succulent related to the lily family, and not a cactus, by the way.
Many visitors to the Mayan Riviera and Cancun get tours of so-called tequila factories, but they are more likely mezcal distillery, or it may produce another regional spirit.
“It is NOT tequila, no matter what the guide tells you. Tequila is not made in the states of Yucatán or Quintana Roo and the closest tequila factory is more than 1,000 miles away,” says Canadian writer Ian Chadwick.