Basella alba L., often referred as Malabar spinach, is a nutritionally valuable leafy vegetable grown in Asian nations such as India and Bangladesh. Apart from being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, the vegetable also contains significant amount of polysaccharides, which have been proven to have effective antidiabetic action in experimental diabetes. As a reason, the current study was conducted to determine the exact mechanism of hypoglycemic action of B. alba aerial parts. The effect of B. alba powder (BAP) on starch digestibility diffusion, and adsorption of glucose, was investigated in vitro. B. alba extract (BAE) was also investigated for its influence on glucose transport in yeast cells. The results showed that BAP, at both 2% and 4% concentrations, bound more glucose than wheat bran (2%) and also retarded glucose diffusion across the dialysis membrane. In a starch digestibility experiment, BAP at both doses (2- and 4%) demonstrated full retardation of glucose diffusion until 120 minutes, similar to acarbose, which showed no glucose diffusion until 240 minutes. The effect of BAP at 4% was the more pronounced followed by BAP at 2% and wheat bran (2%). Furthermore, in a dose-dependent manner, BME enhanced glucose uptake by yeast cells. However, the percentage increase in glucose uptake was inversely related to the concentration of glucose. It is concluded that B. alba has potential hypoglycemic effect, which is mediated by creating a physical barrier to glucose absorption in the GI tract and improving peripheral glucose utilization.
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