Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. The pancreas, an organ that produces hormones and enzymes, produces insulin, a hormone that helps the body use glucose (blood sugar) from food. In diabetes, either not enough insulin is produced or cells do not react to it properly (1).
The avocado (Persea americana) is a fruit tree that produces edible fruits and leaves. Leaves from the avocado pear have been used in folk medicine to treat diabetes and hypertension.
In a study done in Nigeria, researchers investigated the anti-diabetic and antioxidant activities of avocado pear leaves and fruit extracts in rats' pancreas. They observed that both extracts inhibited key enzymes linked to type 2 diabetes and sodium nitroprusside-induced lipid peroxidation in rats’ pancreas. They also found that avocado pear leaf extract exhibited higher antioxidant activity than avocado fruit extract.
Why Researchers Analyzed Avocado Leaves & Fruit?
Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) is a fruit tree native to South America that has been used by local people for many years. The leaves, roots, and fruits of avocado pear are rich in polyphenols, which possess antioxidant properties (2).
Researchers have conducted studies on the antioxidant properties of avocado pear leaves and fruit extracts. These studies have shown promising results in the field of diabetes treatment, where the extracts have been shown to inhibit key enzymes linked to type 2 diabetes and sodium nitroprusside induced lipid peroxidation in rats’ pancreas.
In a study done in 2014, the researchers evaluated the anti-diabetic and antioxidant activities of avocado pear leaves and fruit extracts using rats’ pancreas as an experimental model.
Activities of key enzymes linked to type 2 diabetes were investigated using the pancreatic homogenate of rats. Sodium nitroprusside was used to induce lipid peroxidation in pancreatic tissue homogenate. Nitric oxide (NO) production in pancreatic tissue was analyzed.
The results were published in the International Journal of Biomed Science.
Avocado leaves and fruit contain quercetin, rutin, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and vitamin C. These phytochemicals have been shown to have anti-diabetic properties through their ability to reduce glucose levels in the blood. They also have antioxidant properties due to their ability to neutralize free radicals in the body. The researchers determined that avocados are high in vitamins A, E, and C which are all powerful antioxidants.
The Results of the Study
In this study, scientists examined the effects of avocado pear leaves and fruits on key enzymes linked to type 2 diabetes (α-amylase and α-glucosidase) as well as sodium nitroprusside-induced lipid peroxidation in rat pancreas tissues. The results showed that both extracts inhibited α-amylase and α-glucosidase activities in a dose-dependent manner but there was no significant difference between concentrations of 5mg/ml and 50mg/ml for both extracts. Additionally, incubation of rat pancreas in the presence of 5 mM SNP caused an increase in the malondialdehyde (MDA) content in the tissue however introduction of both extracts inhibited MDA produced.
The results suggest that avocado leaves can be used as a food source that has significant anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties.