Research: Can some foods fight COVID-19?

Could green tea help the body fight the coronavirus?
Could green tea help the body fight the coronavirus?

Forget about stockpiling toilet paper. A new study about COVID-19 could have consumers scurrying for a different aisle in the grocery store.

     Foods and beverages such as green tea, muscadine grapes and dark chocolate "can bind to and block the function of a particular enzyme, or protease, in the SARS-CoV-2 virus," which causes COVID-19, according to a new study by plant biologists at North Carolina State University.
   Protease is defined as any of numerous enzymes that hydrolyze (break down with water) proteins. In this case, the "main protease" is necessary for the virus to replicate and assemble itself, said De-Yu Xie, professor of plant and microbial biology at the university, quoted in the school's news release. If the virus is inhibited, it will die.
     Researchers from the university performed computer simulations and lab studies that used plant chemical compounds already known for potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, then attempted to show how the main protease in the virus reacted to them.
    Computer simulations revealed that chemical compounds from green tea, two varieties of muscadine grapes, cacao powder and dark chocolate were able to bind to different portions of the main protease. 
     The research was published Nov. 30, just as pharmaceutical companies were ramping up efforts to release vaccines. Authorities at the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention have determined that health care workers and the elderly will receive the first doses.
     "Given that there is not an effective medicine for the treatment of COVID-19," the research concludes, "and not a vaccine for preventing against the SARS-Cov-2 infection and transmission, these data recommend that these nutraceutical compounds and extracts of green tea, grape, and cacao can be utilized to interfere the devastation of SARS-Cov-2."
     The paper appears in Frontiers in Plant Science. Yue Zhu, a doctoral student in Xie’s lab, is the lead author.


     North Carolina State University: Chemical Compounds in Foods Can Inhibit a Key SARS-CoV-2 Enzyme, by Mick Kulikowski, Nov. 30, 2020.


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