The juices of some of the popularly used leafy vegetables like radish ( mullangi in Telugu and mooli in Hindi), ajwain (vamu in Telugu) and sowa ( Indian dill ) were found to reduce post-meal blood glucose levels when taken before food.
Scientists from the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) led by Ashok Kumar Tiwari studied nine leafy vegetables and found that juices of four, including green amaranth ( chaulai in Hindi and thotakoora in Telugu) significantly attenuated blood sugar levels after meals. In the studies conducted on rats, the animals were fed with the juice before starch-rich diet.
The juices of ajwain, radish and sowa helped in mitigating post-prandial hyperglycemia possibly by slowing down starch digestion. However, some of the juices like ajwain were highly acidic in nature and caution was required before taking them. One should avoid taking more than 100 ml due to their acidic nature, said Dr. Tiwari who is the principal scientist, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology Division, IICT.
Interestingly, it was also found that three other leafy vegetables — alternanthera, joy weed ( ponaganti kura in Telugu), basella ( bacchali in Telugu/ Upodika or Poi in Hindi)) and palak when taken before meals had the potential to augment the post-prandial blood glucose levels. Two others methi and Rumex ( chukka kura ) did not have any significant impact either in enhancing or reducing blood glucose levels.
Dr. Tiwari said vegetables were potent anti-oxidants and scavenge-free radicals which damage cells and bio-molecules. This in turn would lead to oxidative stress and causes different physiological disorders like diabetic complications (retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy), cardio-vascular diseases and hypertension.
He observed that people with diabetes should exercise caution while selecting vegetables, especially for therapeutic purposes. Vegetables contain a variety of minerals and nutrients which help in maintenance of good health. They also possess potential to correct biochemical and physiological haemostasis by virtue of buffering capacity.
He said that post-prandial hyperglycemia had been recognised as one of the precursors for type 2 diabetes mellitus, particularly among South Asian population where rice and potato were major staple foods. It was also a better predictor of progression of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. The results of the study were published in ‘Pharmacognosy’ magazine.