Sea cucumbers, considered a delicacy by some, may play a key role in preventing diabetes, new research has found.
Investigations by the University of South Australia found that processed dried sea cucumber with salt extracts could inhibit a compound associated with an increased risk of the disease.
The compound, Advanced Glycation End (AGE) product, forms when proteins or fats combine with sugars in the bloodstream.
In high numbers, they also increase diabetic complications, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, kidney disease and cancer.
Lead researcher Permal Deo said understanding how the bioactive compounds in sea cucumbers could inhibit the compounds could protect against these diseases.
“Biologically active novel compounds in medicinal plants and foods are potential therapeutic agents to prevent diabetic complications,” Dr Deo said.
“Sea cucumbers are known to have a range of therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so we wanted to explore their bioactive compounds as AGE inhibitors.
“We found that processed dried sea cucumber with salt extracts and collagen can significantly inhibit AGEs by lowering a range of sugar-related metabolites in the body.”
Conducted in collaboration with Fiji National University and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Dr Deo said the research provided sound evidence that sea cucumbers could be developed as a functional food product to help battle the onset of diabetes and diabetic-complications.
About 1.3 million Australians have type 2 diabetes but about 60 per cent of cases can be delayed or prevented through changes to diet and lifestyle.
(Australian Associated Press)