If new research results are confirmed, kudzu vine, which covers millions of acres in the southeastern U.S., may become a tool in the fight against metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is associated with excess body fat in the midsection, high blood pressure, sugar and lipids levels. If untreated, it may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
Alabama researchers have said there is evidence a compound called puerarin, which is found in root extracts from kudzu, regulates glucose metabolism by directing it to muscles, where it is beneficial by helping generate energy, and away from fat cells and blood vessels.
They studied animals which received kudzu extract supplementation and found that after two months they had lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels, compared to the control group.
Kudzu root “may provide a dietary supplement that significantly decreases the risk and severity of stroke and cardiovascular disease in at-risk individuals,” they write.
Puerarin is an isoflavone, a type of antioxidant compound that is also believed to have protective properties against cancer, including certain types of breast and prostate cancers.
The background to the study says that kudzu supplements have long been used as nutritious food by people in China and Japan.