Researchers from the North Carolina State University claimed that chemical compounds present in food or beverages including green tea, dark chocolate, and muscadine grapes can block a particular protease of SARS-CoV-2, thereby preventing the infection.

The researchers in their study stated that proteases are important for the vitality of cells and viruses. If proteases are inhibited cells that cannot perform many important functions including replication.

Author De Yu Xie mentioned that one of their lab’s focus has been to find nutraceuticals in food or medicinal plants that can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 proteases in order to prevent virus replication.

For the study, the researchers performed both computer simulations and lab studies to show the reaction of the main protease (Mpro) in the SARS-CoV-2 virus with several different plant chemical compounds already known for their potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The research observed that the studied chemical compounds from green tea, two varieties of muscadine grapes, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate were able to bind to different portions of Mpro.

Xie explained that Mpro has a portion which is like a ‘pocket’ that was ‘filled’ by the chemical compounds. When this pocket was filled, the protease lost its important function. In fact, lab experiments also showed similar results. Such chemical compounds reduced Mpro activity by about half.

As per research, green tea has five tested chemical compounds that bind to different sites in the pocket on Mpro, significantly inhibiting its function.

The author also noted that Muscadine grapes contain these inhibitory chemicals in their skins and seeds.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.