Isn’t it great that most of us now have access to healthy, delicious food from all around the world? Here’s another one of those healing foods that’s been in popping up in health news lately – it’s called “meju” and it’s from Korea.
Meju is made from fermented soybeans. It’s a common staple in Korea and is usually added to other dishes. The reason meju has been profiled in nutrition circles of late is that it may offer some benefits for type 2 diabetics.
Researchers have known for some time that soybeans have the ability to positively affect insulin resistance, though this effect is somewhat mild. A team of scientists decided to find out if different types of fermented soybeans may have even greater anti-diabetic effects.
It turns out that meju has exhibited better insulin sensitizing and insulinotropic actions (stimulating or affecting the activity of insulin) than unfermented cooked soybeans. This was discovered when they performed tests on diabetic rats. Fermented meju increased “isoflavonoid aglycones” (special substances involved in the breakdown of sugars) much more than cooked soybeans did.
Although both cooked soybeans and meju both improved glucose tolerance in the rats, they did so through different mechanisms. It seems that cooked soybeans enhanced peripheral insulin sensitivity, including hepatic insulin sensitivity. Meju enhanced only hepatic insulin sensitivity through activating insulin signaling in the rats. However, meju also activated glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, which the cooked soybeans did not do.
The researchers concluded that the anti-diabetic action of meju, especially when fermented with “Bacillus subtilis” and “Aspergillus oryzae,” was superior to cooked soybeans by increasing isoflavonoid aglycones in type 2 diabetic rats.
You can find meju in specialty shops catering to the Asian community and in some of the larger grocery stores that feature an ethnic food isle. Check online for some tasty recipes that will give you hints how to cook with meju and add it to other foods to create a delicious, healthy meal.
For information about how a Chinese fruit could help in the treatment of diabetes, read the article Little-known Fruit Could Help revent Diabetes.