British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Soluble dietary fibre fraction of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seed improves glucose homeostasis in animal models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes by delaying carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and enhancing insulin action

J. M. A. Hannana1, L. Alia2, B. Rokeyaa2, J. Khalequea2, M. Akhtera2, P. R. Flatta1 and Y. H. A. Abdel-Wahaba1 c1

a1 School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland BT52 1SA, UK

a2 Department of Pharmacology, Biomedical Research Group, BIRDEM, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh


Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds have been documented as a traditional plant treatment for diabetes. In the present study, the antidiabetic properties of a soluble dietary fibre (SDF) fraction of T. foenum-graecum were evaluated. Administration of SDF fraction (0·5 g/kg body weight) to normal, type 1 or type 2 diabetic rats significantly improved oral glucose tolerance. Total remaining unabsorbed sucrose in the gastrointestinal tract of non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic rats, following oral sucrose loading (2·5 g/kg body weight) was significantly increased by T. foenum-graecum (0·5 g/kg body weight). The SDF fraction suppressed the elevation of blood glucose after oral sucrose ingestion in both non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic rats. Intestinal disaccharidase activity and glucose absorption were decreased and gastrointestinal motility increased by the SDF fraction. Daily oral administration of SDF to type 2 diabetic rats for 28 d decreased serum glucose, increased liver glycogen content and enhanced total antioxidant status. Serum insulin and insulin secretion were not affected by the SDF fraction. Glucose transport in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and insulin action were increased by T. foenum-graecum. The present findings indicate that the SDF fraction of T. foenum-graecum seeds exerts antidiabetic effects mediated through inhibition of carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and enhancement of peripheral insulin action.

(Received May 30 2006)

(Revised August 28 2006)

(Accepted September 01 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Yasser Abdel-Wahab, fax +44 (0)28 7032 4956, email


Abbreviations: GI, gastrointestinal;; SDF, soluble dietary fibre