Kudzu root (Radix pueraria) comes from Pueraria lobota. Kudzu contains isoflavone glucosides, such as puerarin. The isoflavones are antioxidant and antidipsotropic (works against alcohol abuse.) The authors previously demonstrated that isoflavones work best in hypertensive rats with their ovaries removed. This may mean that isoflavones work by stimulating estrogen pathways.
The authors studied whether dietary kudzu root can improve metabolic syndrome related hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol in stroke-prone rats with high blood pressure. Kudzu does not have significant toxic effects.
The rats were first fed a diet without flavonoids and, then, were fed a healthy diet with 0.2% puerarin. Some rats received a control diet without kudzu. Some rats had their ovaries removed and some did not. Blood tests were done and arterial blood pressures were tested. Some of the animals received kudzu and some did not.
The most abundant isoflavone in kudzu is puerarin, with daidzin and daidzein being common. Puerarin is the isoflavone in kudzu which has the strongest effects on glucose. Puerarin does not accumulate in the blood; but, it is rapidly cleared after a dose.
The author’s study shows that polyphenols in kudzu reduce blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and improves insulin sensitivity in stoke-prone hypertensive female rats (a model for metabolic syndrome.) The puerarin-fed animals ended with lower body weights. The animals fed kudzu had significant reductions in blood pressures. The kudzu fed animals, both normal and with ovaries, had better insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol levels. Triglyceride levels were not altered by kudzu.
CONCLUSION: Kudzu supplementation in young female rats improves blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels. Kudzu also lowers blood pressures. Long term kudzu use benefits blood glucose and lipid metabolism and cardiovascular function, secondarily. Kudzu may improve the risk of the metabolic syndrome.
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