A new French study has found that following an antioxidant-rich diet may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes. The discovery builds on earlier research that indicates prolonged oxidative stress may contribute to the development of the disease.
Consumption of a diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Now, scientists have determined a connection also exists between these foods and type 2 diabetes.
The researchers suspected the link based on previous studies that show a tie between reduced type 2 diabetes risk and the consumption of the antioxidants of vitamin E, vitamin C, flavonoids and lycopenes. However, these investigations explored the effects of isolated nutrients rather than the total antioxidant content of the diet. The latter measurement is important because some evidence suggests nutrients work synergistically.
Highest Antioxidant-Food Intake Reduced Diabetes Risk by 27 Percent
In the new investigation, scientists examined data from the E3N-EPIC cohort study, which was comprised of 64,223 French women between the age of 40 and 65. All of the individuals were free of cardiovascular disease and diabetes at the time of their inclusion into the research. The women were followed from 1993 to 2008.
At the onset, the participants completed dietary questionnaires that included more than 200 foods. Using this information and an Italian database of antioxidant content of foods, the team tabulated a total diet antioxidant capacity score for each woman. During the 15-year period, 1,751 individuals developed type 2 diabetes. The incidence enabled the researchers to make correlations between dietary scores and risk of the disease.
Analysis revealed diabetes risk declined as the antioxidant consumption rose, until a plateau was reached at 15 mmol/day. This quantity of dietary antioxidants could be reached by eating fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, dark chocolate and tea. Participants with the highest antioxidant scores had a 27-percent reduction in type 2 diabetes risk compared to 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 Romana Mancini, the first author of this study.
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and has been tied to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Nonetheless, it was excluded from the study to prevent it from masking the effects of the other antioxidant foods.
Wine also contains antioxidant-rich extracts, but the researchers stressed the importance of moderation in its consumption. This stems from the fact that high alcohol intake is associated with an elevated diabetes risk.
“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,” explains Guy Fagherazzi, the lead researcher in charge of diabetes research in the E3N study. “We have shown that an increased intake of antioxidants can contribute to a reduction in diabetes risk.”
The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.
Antioxidant Content of Foods
Aim for a daily intake of 15 mmol of antioxidants per day. To get an idea of what this might look like in the diet, Live in the Now sought the help of nutritionist and award-winning author Dr. Janet Brill.
“Antioxidants are found in plant foods. Here are several examples:
- 5 ounces espresso: 16 mmol
- 5 ounces walnuts: 22 mmol
- 5 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa): 15 mmol
- 5 ounces blackberries: 4 mmol
- 5 ounces whole grain flaked cereal: 3.5 mmol
- 5 ounces red wine: 3 mmol
- 5 ounces curly kale: 3 mmol
- 5 ounces red kidney beans: 1.5 mmol”
If you drink coffee or tea and eat plenty of plant foods, it won’t be difficult to meet this goal. Try to vary your fruit and vegetable intake, so you can ingest a broad spectrum of the antioxidants present in brightly colored produce.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.