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Kudzu root could fight metabolic syndrome

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Kudzu Root

Scientists in Alabama and Iowa are studying kudzu root for fighting metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The invasive kudzu vine grows in abundance in the Southeastern United States, and s considered a nuisance. New evidence shows that kudzu could become a beneficial dietary supplement for humans at risk for heart attack, stroke, and a variety of diseases.

A research focus on developing natural compounds to fight metabolic syndrome prompted the study. The findings, published in the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that lab animals given kudzu root for two months experienced lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol , blood sugar and insulin level. Kudzu root reversed metabolic syndrome after two months in rats given the supplement, compared to a control group.

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Metabolic syndrome is difficult to reverse in humans. Symptoms include abdominal obesity, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and inability of the body to use insulin and glucose properly. The result of metabolic syndrome greatly increases risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. Kudzu root could help lower risk factors among individuals diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome as the result genetic predisposition, inactivity and poor dietary habits. Excess abdominal fat is a contributing factor for developing metabolic syndrome. Women whose waist circumference is greater than 35 inches, and men with waist size greater than 40 inches are at risk for health complications from metabolic syndrome. Kudzu could be further developed as a natural defense against heart disease and stroke.

The study authors write, kudzu root "may provide a dietary supplement that significantly decreases the risk and severity of stroke and cardiovascular disease in at-risk individuals." After two months of taking kudzu root extract, lab rats experienced lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, showing that kudzu could potentially help fight metabolic syndrome in humans.

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2009, 57 (16), pp 7268–7273