Diet rich with antioxidants can reduce type 2 diabetes risk

by Barbara Hewitt on November 13, 2017

A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, tea and a moderate amount of red wine can help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women, according to new research.

It is already established that such a diet can lower the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular conditions and now scientists from France have found a similar effect for type 2 diabetes.

Red Wine

(DoroshinOleg/Bigstock.com)

The key ingredient is antioxidants which are most commonly found in fruit, vegetables, dark chocolate, tea and some other hot drinks and in red wine, the study report from the researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).

The team already suspected there might be a link on the basis of previous studies showing that certain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, lycophenes or flavonoids, were associated with a reduction in type 2 diabetes risk.

However, these studies looked only at isolated nutrients, not at the total antioxidant capacity of the diet. The researchers therefore wanted to verify whether overall diet, according to its antioxidant capacity, is associated with diabetes risk.

Using data from French women recruited from 1990, then aged between 40 and 65 years, they followed 64,223 women from 1993 to 2008, all of whom were free from diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the time of inclusion in the study.

Each participant completed a dietary questionnaire at the beginning of the study, including detailed information on more than 200 different food items. Using this information, together with an Italian database providing the antioxidant capacity of a large number of different foods, the researchers calculated a score for ‘total dietary antioxidant capacity’ for each participant. The group then analysed the associations between this score and the risk of diabetes occurrence during the follow-up period.

The results show that diabetes risk diminished with increased antioxidant consumption up to a level of 15 mmol/day, above which the effect reached a plateau. Women with the highest antioxidant scores had a reduction in diabetes risk of 27% compared with those with the lowest scores.

‘This link persists after taking into account all the other principal diabetes risk factors: smoking, education level, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, family history of diabetes and, above all, BMI, the most important factor’, said Francesca Mancini, first author of the study.

The foods and drinks that contributed the most to a high dietary antioxidant score were fruits and vegetables, tea and red wine, consumed in moderate quantities. The authors excluded coffee from the analysis, despite its high antioxidant levels, because the antioxidants in coffee have already been shown to be associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk, and might therefore mask the effects of antioxidants from other sources.

‘This work complements our current knowledge of the effect of isolated foods and nutrients, and provides a more comprehensive view of the relationship between food and type 2 diabetes. We have shown that an increased intake of antioxidants can contribute to a reduction in diabetes risk,’ said Guy Fagherazzi, the lead researcher in charge of diabetes research.

The researchers now want to look at why. ‘We know that these molecules counterbalance the effect of free radicals, which are damaging to cells, but there are likely to be more specific actions in addition to this, for example an effect on the sensitivity of cells to insulin. This will need to be confirmed in future studies,’ Mancini explained.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: