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© 2015 American Society for Nutrition. Metabolic syndrome and its complications continue to rise in prevalence and show no signs of abating in the immediate future. Therefore, the search for effective treatments is a high priority in biomedical research. Products derived from botanicals have a time-honored history of use in the treatment of metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes. Trigonella foenum-graecum, commonly known as fenugreek, is an annual herbaceous plant that has been a staple of traditional herbal medicine in many cultures. Although fenugreek has been studied in both clinical and basic research settings, questions remain about its efficacy and biologic mechanisms of action. Diosgenin, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, and the fiber component of the plant are the most intensively studied bioactive constituents present in fenugreek. These compounds have been demonstrated to exert beneficial effects on several physiologic markers including glucose tolerance, inflammation, insulin action, liver function, blood lipids, and cardiovascular health. Although insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the favorable effects of fenugreek have been gained, we still do not have definitive evidence establishing its role as a therapeutic agent in metabolic disease. This review aims to summarize the currently available evidence on the physiologic effects of the 3 best-characterized bioactive compounds of fenugreek, with particular emphasis on biologic mechanisms of action relevant in the context of metabolic syndrome.

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Advances in Nutrition

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