Washington: A little bitter with a little sweet, in the form of a dietary supplement taken before meals, can drastically cut down fat and sugar absorption.
Naringenin, the molecule responsible for the bitter taste in grapefruits, could potentially be used in the treatment of diabetes, arteriosclerosis and hyper-metabolism, says an earlier study by researchers from Hebrew University (Jerusalem) and Harvard University.
However, the absorption of naringenin in its natural form is very low. The combined team led by Yaakov Nahmias at Hebrew University, has now created a nano-complex of naringenin within a ring of sugar called cyclodextrin.
This complex increases naringenin absorption by 11 times.
The researchers found 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 percent.
It also increased insulin sensitivity by 64 percent, the journal Public Library of Science reports.
This is the first ever demonstration of how a dietary supplement can change the way the human body reacts beneficially to a meal, according to a Hebrew University statement.
"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 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.
Clinical tests are now under way in the US.