Now that leaves are changing and autumn is upon us, the color orange slowly starts to dominate the landscape, why not let orange affect our health too! Indian researchers have identified pumpkin peel extract as being able to prevent the effects of diabetes in mice. Big news since diabetes currently affects over 20 million Americans and is responsible for 250,000 deaths annually.

The 2010 animal study found that pumpkin and cucumber peel extracts prevented the onset of diabetic symptoms in a chemically-induced diabetic mouse model. Several groups of mice received either a dose of the pumpkin or cucumber peel extracts or water as a control for 10 days. At day 11 they were all dosed with a chemical known to induce diabetes mellitus called alloxan. At day 15 blood analyses revealed the control group, after exposure to the chemical inducer, exhibited the classic signs of diabetes including increased serum glucose (up 143%), oxidized lipids (up 154%) and decreased insulin levels (down 42%). Mice which received either of the pumpkin or cucumber extracts as well as the chemical inducer exhibited normal blood glucose while the pumpkin group additionally enjoyed the pre-diabetic levels of insulin and oxidized lipids observed for the control group! The study authors ascribe this action to most likely being due to the presence of antioxidant vitamin C as well as antioxidant-like phytochemicals called polyphenols found in the peels.

While pumpkin peels do not sound all that appetizing, the compounds in them, vitamin C, polyphenols, etc., are common in many fruits and vegetables. The onset of type 2 diabetes is closely linked with increased obesity as well as diet quality so load up on foods like broccoli, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and leafy greens which are all loaded with these same nutrients and are themselves powerful weapons in the fight against diabetes.

Published October 1, 2013