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Flavonoids in chocolate, red grapes, and tea could help you beat diabetes

Harold Mandel's picture
A young woman enjoying a cup of tea

More people than ever are overweight, obese and suffering from diabetes. The increase in the rates of type 2 diabetes has been frightening. This has clearly been associated with the worldwide obesity epidemic which has rolled over from consumption of too much junk food and sedentary lifestyles. Reports that eating certain tasty foods such as chocolate and berries and enjoying tea daily may cut the risk for type 2 diabetes is encouraging.

Researchers have found that intakes of anthocyanins and flavones are associated with biomarkers of insulin resistance and inflammation, reported the Journal of Nutrition via the National Institutes of Health. Laboratory data have suggested that flavonoids are involved in glucose metabolism, but the clinical and epidemiologic data has been limited. Researchers decided to study the associations between habitual intake of various flavonoids, insulin resistance, and related inflammatory biomarkers.

It was observed that higher intakes of both anthocyanins and flavones were associated with improvements in insulin resistance and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. These associations were seen with intakes which are readily achieved in the diet. The reduction in insulin levels which was seen was similar to that which has been reported for other lifestyle factors. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein which is found in the blood, the levels of which increase in response to inflammation. High sensitivity C-reactive protein is often used as a test to help determine a person's risk level for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

The researchers at the University of East Anglia have found that ingredients which are found in chocolate, tea and berries may help guard against diabetes, reports the University of East Anglia. According to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and King’s College London, consuming high levels of flavonoids including anthocyanins and other compounds, such as those found in berries, tea, and chocolate, may offer protection from type 2 diabetes.

High consumption of these dietary compounds has been observed to be associated with lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation. In this study of about 2,000 people it was also found that these food groups decrease inflammation which, when chronic, has been found to be associated with serious illnesses, including:

1: Diabetes

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2: Obesity

3: Cardiovascular disease

4: Cancer

Professor Aedin Cassidy, who is from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, led this research. She has commented, “Our research looked at the benefits of eating certain sub-groups of flavanoids. We focused on flavones, which are found in herbs, and vegetables such as parsley, thyme, and celery, and anthocyanins, which are found in berries, red grapes, wine and other red or blue-colored fruits and vegetables." This was one of the first large-scale human studies to investigate how these powerful bioactive compounds might lower the risk of diabetes.

The researchers found that people who consumed large amounts of anthocyanins and flavones had lower insulin resistance. There is an association between high insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. This research therefore showed people who eat foods which are rich in these two compounds are less likely to develop diabetes.

It was also observed that people who consumed the most anthocyanins were least likely to suffer from chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation, as noted, is associated with many serious health concerns. Also, there were found to be improved levels of adiponectin in people who consumed the most flavone compounds. Adiponectin helps to regulate many metabolic processes including glucose levels.

It is very encouraging that research has showed that eating certain delicious foods and enjoying some tea and wine may help people prevent type 2 diabetes. I generally find that people are very receptive to suggestions dealing with nutrition which can improve their health. I therefore encourage more aggressive initiatives to help more people develop an awareness of the fact that enjoying foods which are high in anthocyanins and flavones, such as blueberries, red grapes, chocolate and tea, may help them beat diabetes. It's also nice to know that enjoying red wine with a Mediterranean diet may help diabetics, as I have reported upon in a separate article for EmaxHealth.

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