The low-AGE content of low-fat vegan diets could benefit diabetics - though concurrent taurine supplementation may be needed to minimize endogenous AGE production.


McCarty MF.

Year Published: 



Med Hypotheses.


Study Design: 


Increased endogenous generation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) contributes importantly to the vascular complications of diabetes, in part owing to activation of the pro-inflammatory RAGE receptor. However, AGE-altered oligopeptides with RAGE-activating potential can also be absorbed from the diet, and indeed make a significant contribution to the plasma and tissue pool of AGEs; this contribution is especially prominent when compromised renal function impairs renal clearance of AGEs. Perhaps surprisingly, foods rich in both protein and fat, and cooked at high heat, tend to be the richest dietary sources of AGEs, whereas low-fat carbohydrate-rich foods tend to be relatively low in AGEs. Conceivably, this reflects the fact that the so-called "AGEs" in the diet are generated primarily, not by glycation reactions, but by interactions between oxidized lipids and protein; such reactions are known to give rise to certain prominent AGEs, such as epsilonN-carboxymethyl-lysine and methylglyoxal. Although roasted nuts and fried or broiled tofu are relatively high in AGEs, low-fat plant-derived foods, including boiled or baked beans, typically are low in AGEs. Thus, a low-AGE content may contribute to the many benefits conferred to diabetics by a genuinely low-fat vegan diet. Nonetheless, the plasma AGE content of healthy vegetarians has been reported to be higher than that of omnivores - suggesting that something about vegetarian diets may promote endogenous AGE production. Some researchers have proposed that the relatively high-fructose content of vegetarian diets may explain this phenomenon, but there so far is no clinical evidence that normal intakes of fructose have an important impact on AGE production. An alternative or additional possibility is that the relatively poor taurine status of vegetarians up-regulates the physiological role of myeloperoxidase-derived oxidants in the generation of AGEs - in which case, taurine supplementation might be expected to suppress elevated AGE production in vegetarians. Thus, a taurine supplemented low-fat vegan diet may be recommended as a strategy for minimizing AGE-mediated complications in diabetics and in patients with renal failure.