The world is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a vaccine against the coronavirus. Until it becomes available, you may consider adding more dark chocolate or green tea to your diet, in addition to practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.
De-Yu Xie, professor of plant and microbial biology, and Yue Zhu, Ph.D. A student in Xie’s lab at North Carolina State University found that chemicals in some foods and drinks could prevent the replication of certain enzymes in new coronavirus cells.
According to their study published in the journal Borders, dark chocolate, green tea, and muscadine grapes (a breed native to the south) all contain chemical compounds that can bind to and effectively block the function of the protease of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID- 19. If protease replication is inhibited, the spread of a virus is effectively stopped.
“One of the goals of our lab is to find nutraceuticals in foods or herbs that inhibit the way a virus attaches to human cells or the spread of a virus in human cells,” Xie said in a statement. (Related: Single Vitamin Doctors Urge Everyone To Take Now)
What exactly did the authors watch?
Researchers observed how the main protease (Mpro) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus reacted once it came into contact with different plant chemicals, especially those that exhibit both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They studied Mpro both through computer simulations and laboratory studies.
Computer simulations showed that specific chemicals in cocoa powder, dark chocolate, green tea, and two varieties of muscadine grapes were able to bind to different servings of Mpro.
“Mpro has a part that is like a ‘pocket’ that has been ‘filled in’ by the chemical compounds,” Xie said. “When this pocket was filled, the protease lost its important function.”
Laboratory experiments gave similar results – the chemical compounds in green tea and muscadine grapes completely inhibited the function of Mpro. The compounds found in dark chocolate and cocoa powder reduce their activity by about half.
“Green tea has five tested chemicals that bind to different sites in Mpro’s pocket, essentially overwhelming it to inhibit its function,” Xie said. “Muscadine grapes contain these inhibitory chemicals in their skins and seeds. Plants use these compounds to protect themselves, so it’s no surprise that the leaves and skins of plants contain these beneficial compounds.
That doesn’t mean these foods and drinks will protect you from COVID-19, but these findings could be a catalyst for more important discoveries to come.
To learn more, be sure to check out Drinking This Drink Can Make You Smarter.
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