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Sweet potato: New remedy for diabetes?

VIENNA, AUSTRIA. Experiments have shown that caiapo, an extract of white-skinned sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), reduces insulin resistance in laboratory animals (rats). Now researchers at the University of Vienna report that caiapo has a similar effect in type 2 diabetes patients. Their clinical trial involved 18 diabetic men (average age of 58 years) treated by diet alone. The men were randomized to receive either placebo, 2 grams of caiapo or 4 grams of caiapo daily taken in divided doses before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fasting glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels were measured before the beginning of treatment and after six weeks of treatment. The effect of 2 grams (low dose) of caiapo was not significant, but the men consuming 4 grams (high dose) of caiapo daily experienced a 13 per cent drop in fasting plasma glucose accompanied by a 30 per cent drop in total cholesterol and a 13 per cent drop in LDL cholesterol.

The researchers conclude that supplementing with 4 grams per day of caiapo decreases insulin resistance and lowers cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetes patients. They suggest that caiapo could potentially play a role in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. NOTE: This study was funded by Fuji Sangyo, the manufacturer of caiapo.
Ludvik, Bernhard, H., et al. The effect of Ipomoea batatas (caiapo) on glucose metabolism and serum cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, Vol. 25, January 2002, pp. 239-40 (letter)

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