RALEIGH – Vaccines are on the way, but right now you can use diet to prevent COVID-19, says a professor at N.C. State-based on findings in a newly published study.

Eat grapes, drink green tea – and enjoy chocolate.

In fact, De-Yu Xie, professor of plant and microbial biology at NCSU, believes so much in what he has found that he’s recommending the diet right now. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, shows “active compounds” in certain foods fight the virus at the cellular level.

“Are you recommending a diet including these foods as a means of fighting COVID-19?” WRAL TechWire asked Dr. Xie.

“Yes, green tea and muscadine grapes,” he replied. And Xie, who specializes on phytochemistry, metabolomics and metabolic engineering, is putting the diet in place for himself and others.

“I hope that more people know that green tea, grapes and cacao (chocolate) have active compounds with anti-SARS-Cov-2 enzyme activity,” he said, referring the scientific name for the coronavirus.

“Before vaccines are ready, use these functional food and beverage products.

“My family, my students, and I are doing this way.

“Many foods on our tables, many beverages on your table, in your car — they have generally antiviral activities.”

[In followup comments, the professor, stressed that the food products were not a substitute for vaccines or CDC-recommended preventive measures. 

““Here, I make a strong and clear statement that I strongly support all CDC guides, vaccines, mask requirements, social distancing, and all other protocols for preventing, stopping, and treating COVID-19,” he said.

[“Vaccines are the final solutions to eradicate COVID-19.”]

Chemical compounds in foods he cited “can bind to and block the function of a particular enzyme, or protease,” NCSU reported.

In effect, the virus dies as a result, Xie said.

Vaccines aren’t yet preventive

NCSU noted that “chemical compounds in green tea and muscadine grapes were very successful at inhibiting [a key] function; chemical compounds in cacao powder and dark chocolate reduced [the key] activity by about half.”

Even when vaccines are approved and distributed, they are not preventive, Xie points out in the study.

“Currently, the humans are placing a hope on vaccines. However, no effective vaccines are ready for prevention. The potential risks of vaccines remain largely unknown. Making matters worse, more studies have shown that the originality and the transmission of this contagious virus are more complicated than the humans know,” the study explains.

Xie and his fellow researchers stress:

“In summary, no medicines can treat COVID-19 and no vaccines can prevent this contagious disease. Therefore, effective treatments and preventions are urgently needed.”

He and researchers have been spent months examining these foods and the active compounds they contain to fight COVID. Researchers say if the compound can deactivate the enzyme, the virus will die.

Next steps?

Computer simulations and in-vitro (lab) tests produced the same results.

Xie has big hopes for the diet but faces challenges in getting to the next level:

In-human tests.

“I am struggling to find a doctor who would like to collaborate with us to perform clinical trials and provide green tea and muscadine extracts to test their therapeutic efficacy to treat COVID-19,” he explained.

But he encourages people to try the diet.

“Recommendation to you and your family: Stay with green tea for safety!”