Eating vegetables such as asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes could hold the key to fighting obesity and diabetes, researchers believe.
Scientists are examining whether a diet rich in certain types of fibre can suppress hunger and improve the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.
Foods such as garlic, chicory, asparagus and artichokes are known as fermentable carbohydrates, which are thought to activate the release of gut hormones that reduce appetite.
They also enhance sensitivity to insulin – the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells – thereby leading to better glucose control, it is believed.
The charity Diabetes UK is now funding research into the health benefits of such foods. If proved to be effective, the findings could revolutionise treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Nicola Guess, a dietitian at Imperial College, London, who is leading the three-year study, said: “By investigating how appetite and blood glucose levels are regulated in people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, it is hoped that we can find a way to prevent its onset.
“If successful, this study will be able to determine whether fermentable carbohydrates could provide the public with an effective and affordable health intervention to reduce an individual’s risk of developing diabetes.”
If left untreated, it can lead to complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputation.
Research by the University of Leicester, published last week, suggests that eating green leafy vegetables could help cut the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Broccoli, kale, spinach, sprouts and cabbage can reduce the risk by 14pc when eaten daily, according to the study published in the British Medical Journal.
The vegetables are rich in antioxidants and magnesium, which has been linked to lower levels of diabetes.