Fighting diabetes, one sea cucumber at a time

Fighting diabetes, one sea cucumber at a time

You aren’t likely to confuse the cucumbers you find at the local supermarket with the sea cucumber. The market variety is, of course, a vegetable. The other is a marine animal that is a delicacy in Asia. Neither variety has a brain. One doesn’t breathe. The other has respiratory organs in its derrière.

One thing they share: Both are apparently good at fighting diabetes.

A team of Australian researchers has found that dried, processed sea cucumbers with salt extracts inhibit a compound in the human body associated with Type 2 diabetes complications.

The compound, called advanced glycation end product, or AGE, starts accumulating in the body when we’re embryos. Sugar in the blood acts like gasoline to a match with the compound, greatly increasing levels of AGE in people with diabetes. That in turn heightens the risk of heart disease.

Scientists say extracts from the sea cucumber appear to significantly inhibit the formation of the AGE compound. And that might lessen the risk of diabetes.

Sea cucumber has long been used for medicinal purposes. In traditional Chinese medicine, for example, it has been used to treat everything from constipation to arthritic joint pain.

Indeed, the Australian scientists say sea cucumbers have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, with potential benefits beyond diabetes.

This is heady stuff for a brainless sea creature. But the ordinary cucumber on your shopping list is no slouch, either.

It’s extremely low in carbs and a good food for people with diabetes. They also have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t spike blood sugar levels.

By land or by sea, cukes are a recipe for good health.


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