12 January - 20 June 2016

A diet high in antioxidants may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

Scientists are reporting that consumption of foods high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle aged women. The main contributors of antioxidants in the diet are from fruit and vegetables, wine, coffee and tea.

Scientists are reporting that consumption of foods high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle aged women.  The main contributors of antioxidants in the diet are from fruit and vegetables, wine, coffee and tea.  The role of antioxidants in the diet is to prevent the “generation of excess free radicals” ultimately avoiding oxidative stress to the cell. Once damage has occurred antioxidants can prevent further cell damage.  The authors note that to date no study has investigated the association between total antioxidant consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes.  However they thought that there might be a link as previous studies have reported that certain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, lycopene or flavonoids, were associated with a reduction in type 2 diabetes risk.

Their findings, published in the journal Diabetologica, come after they analysed data from 64,223 women aged 40 and 65 years involved in the French E3N-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. The participants were followed from 1993 to 2008 (15 years follow up).  At baseline the participants completed a 208 item dietary questionnaire assessing their previous year food and drink consumption habits. Nutrient intake was assessed and total antioxidant capacity of the diet calculated using the ferric ion-reducing antioxidant (FRAP method).  The team excluded coffee from their analysis as 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.

Boultron-Ruault et al. report that during follow up, 1751 participants had validated type 2 diabetes diagnosed.  The scientists found that “compared to women in the lowest quintile group of total antioxidant capacity, those in the highest quintile group had a higher energy intake, consumed less coffee, more fruit and vegetables and drank more tea and wine.”  The study reports that that diabetes risk decreased with increased antioxidant consumption up to a level of 15 mmol/day, above which the effect reached a plateau. Boultro-Ruault et al found that the participants with the highest antioxidant scores had a reduction in diabetes risk of 27% compared with those with the lowest scores. The authors note that whilst consuming large amounts of alcoholic beverages are associated with a higher risk of diabetes, moderate alcohol consumption has been reported to be associated with decrease risk compared with no consumption. Wine consumption specifically not beer and spirits consumption has been associated with reduced risk of diabetes, which the researchers state is due to its “abundant content of phenolic acids and polyphenols”.  The team report in a press release that “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”.  The authors reiterate their findings and note that further studies are necessary to clarify the underlying biological mechanism involved. 

RSSL can test the antioxidant capacity of foods.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

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