We’re often advised that drinking alcohol can make us gain weight, due in part to the sugar content. As a result, we do our best not to drink too many empty calories during a night out with friends. But now, it’s possible that you can go ahead and order that margarita with fewer worries.
New research by the American Chemical Society is making an exception to the long-held belief that alcoholic beverages make you gain weight: tequila. Like potatoes to vodka, the agave plant is used to make tequila. Agave plants contain natural plant sugars known as fructans.
This may make you think of agave syrup, the alternative sweetener that took health food stores by storm years ago. But the kind of sugar being studied here isn’t the same. Researchers are looking at the specific properties of agavins, a kind of sugar which is actually similar to dietary fiber since we don’t digest it, and it never gives us the bump in blood sugar.
Researchers fed mice a regular diet. A portion of the mice’s diet was supplemented with water which had been spiked with agavins. Those mice ate less and maintained healthier blood sugar levels. In addition, they produced more of the hormone GLP-1, which improves satiety and boosts insulin. They also lost weight – a result not seen in mice that were given artificial sweeteners, sucrose, or even agave syrup.
There are a few things to keep in mind here before you go full margarita. One is that it’s an animal study, so we have yet to see how exactly this information translates when studied with humans.
The other is who would best benefit from this knowledge. The purpose of this research is to measure how agavins in particular can benefit obese people who are at a much greater risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Finally, it’s always important to consider the many health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Doing shots of tequila probably won’t help you lose that last seven pounds, but a tequila cocktail may be the least harmful option for those who need to watch their blood sugar.