Hydrocolloids' health benefits extended

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Obesity Nutrition Insulin

Hydrocolloid ingredients commonly used as gelling agents,
emulsifiers and stabilizers may also have benefits for diabetics,
suggests new research from the Dow Chemical Company.

Both hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC) and methylcellulose (MC) were found to blunt both the glucose and insulin response from eating breakfast, highlighting benefits for diabetics, according to the study in the Journal of Nutrition .

A growing number of studies are looking at the potential of hydrocolloids as health ingredients.

However, hydrocolloids are currently used in foods at levels is well below that needed to exert a physiological effect, with the exception of gum arabic in Slim Fast.

The new study, a collaboration between researchers from Dow and Provident Clinical Research (Bloomington), investigated the effects of high viscosity (HV) HPMC, ultra-HV (UHV) HPMC, and medium viscosity MC in 50 overweight and obese people after consuming breakfast containing 75 grams of carbohydrates.

Lead author Kevin Maki and co-workers measured the glucose and insulin response after the breakfasts containing HV-HPMC (one gram), HV-HPMC (two grams), UHV-HPMC (two grams), medium-viscosity MC (four grams), or cellulose (two grams - control group).

All subjects consumed all five breakfasts in a random, double-blind sequence.

The researchers report that the average glucose peak following consumption of the UHV-HPMC (two grams) was significantly lower compared to the control (7.1 versus 7.7 mmol/L), while no significant differences were observed between the control and other glucose peaks.

On the other hand, all the HPMC/MC conditions produced improvement to peak insulin, compared with control.

Indeed, Maki and co-workers report that significantly lower insulin levels were measured after consuming meals with HV-HPMC (two grams), UHV-HPMC (two grams), and MC (four grams).

Furthermore, they reported no adverse effects with respect to gastrointestinal symptoms.

"These findings indicate that HV-HPMC (1 and 2 g), UHV-HPMC (2 g), and MC (4 g) consumption reduced postprandial insulin excursions consistent with delayed glucose absorption," concluded Maki.

Further study is necessary to test for the potential benefits of using hydrocolloids as health ingredients, but other hydrocolloids, including guar gum and pectin, have also been reported to confer a range of health benefits.

An estimated 19 million people are affected by diabetes in the EU 25, equal to four per cent of the total population.

This figure is projected to increase to 26 million by 2030.

In the US, there are over 20 million people with diabetes, equal to seven per cent of the population.

The total costs are thought to be as much as $132 billion, with $92 billion being direct costs from medication, according to 2002 American Diabetes Association figures.

Source: Journal of Nutrition February 2008, Volume 138, Pages 292-296 "Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose and Methylcellulose Consumption Reduce Postprandial Insulinemia in Overweight and Obese Men and Women" Authors: K.C. Maki, M.L. Carson, M.P. Miller, M. Turowski, M. Bell, D.M. Wilder, T.M. Rains, M.S. Reeves

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