Guanajuato, Mexico—Agave plants contain substances called “fructans” that may help prevent or improve existing osteoporosis and provide other health benefits, according to research. New research presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) explained how fructans, molecules of fructose chained together, might increase the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are essential to bone growth.

Fructans may stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, which allows for better absorption and retention of these minerals. The latest research into this effect involved feeding mice fructans culled from agave. The result was that the mice absorbed more calcium from food while excreting less, and showed a substantial increase in the levels of a protein tied to bone tissue growth.

Fructans in agave, the plant from which tequila is derived, have also been indicated as a beneficial supplement for diabetes, obesity, the immune system, reducing disease-causing bacteria, relieving constipation and reducing the risk of colon cancer. The study presented at the conference highlighted its ability to spur bone growth, as well as prevent bone loss and deterioration. The researchers pointed out that agave can be used as a sugar substitute in a variety of foods, such as ice cream, which may be a way of getting these benefits to children for the prevention of various diseases.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2010