Fast-Food Fat Buster May Drop Diabetes Risk
Additive Could Help Avoid Type 2 Diabetes -- but Not Cut Calories
Targeting Saturated Fat
Yokoyama sees a link between saturated fat and type 2 diabetes. "We're
interested in preventing type 2 diabetes," he tells WebMD.
When people eat a lot of saturated fats at once, the body can get
overwhelmed, he explains.
"In more detail, we think saturated fats will block the transport of
glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream into tissues," says Yokoyama.
That raises blood sugar levels, driving up demand for insulin to handle the
blood sugar spike.
Polyunsaturated fats -- found in plant-based foods -- don't have the same
effect, he adds. The researchers fed hamsters a diet high in saturated or
polyunsaturated fats. The saturated-fat hamsters developed insulin resistance,
but the polyunsaturated group didn't.
A saturated fat binge can also swamp parts of the body not designed for the
overload. That includes the liver, heart, and pancreas; pancreatic damage can
lead to diabetes, the news release states.
For years, Yokoyama and colleagues looked for a solution using natural fiber
from oats and barley. When that didn't work as they hoped, they shifted
"Those natural [fibers] are kind of fragile," he explains. "We
were looking for something a little more stable and more easily controlled, and
so we thought we would try HPMC."
They fed a group of hamsters a high-fat diet similar to what many Americans
eat. The hamsters got about 38% of their calories from fat and developed
insulin resistance. Meanwhile, hamsters on a low-fat diet didn't become insulin
A third group of hamsters got a saturated fat diet with HPMC. This time, the
hamsters didn't get insulin resistance.
However, they did gain a bit more weight than hamsters on a healthier diet.
Exactly how HPMC works isn't known, but scientists guess it may slow down fat
HPMC is made by the Dow Chemical Company, but the study was entirely funded
by the USDA. Yokoyama presented the findings in San Diego, at a national
meeting of the American Chemical Society. He credits his colleagues, including
the University of Minnesota's chemical engineering and materials science
professor Wei-Shou Hu, PhD, for their work.